We are spiritually blind, 1)when we fail to see, or to admit, our faults, our shortcomings, our pride, our selfishness; 2)when we fail to see, or refuse to see, the needs of our fellowmen, the plight of the poor, the sick, the hungry and the jobless; 3)when we fail to see Christ in our brothers and sisters, but prefer to look for him in beautiful man-made images and historic shrines.
Like with most valuable things in life, the importance of eyesight is felt when one has lost it-or is in the process of losing it. The loss of sight is quite a tragedy; it deprives a person of so many wonderful things, of so many opportunities, of so many pleasures like reading a book, watching a sunset or contemplating the beauty of nature. No wonder the blind Bartimaeus could not be stopped by the crowd.
The crowd accompanying Jesus acted like the bodyguards of a politician or a big shot. They tried to silence Bartimaeus so that he might not pester the Big Boss. But Jesus is no politician; he is no big boss, and he is not pestered by the cries of the poor. The cries of Bartimaeus for help were music to his ears.
Today’s gospel passage is significant on several accounts: First, it
is the only recorded miracle in which the name of the sick man is given-not only in Hebrew (Bartimaeus) but also in Greek (son of Timaeus). Second, this is the last miracle recorded in the gospel of Mark–prior to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Here Bartimaeus calls Jesus “Son of David,” a messianic title, which is like a prelude of the people’s acclamation on Palm Sunday. Third, there is a fine paradox here: For about three years, Jesus has been working signs and teaching his disciples about his messianic role, but they failed to see beyond the political ruler in him. We saw in last Sunday’s gospel how James and John were merely concerned with position and prestige. It is the blind Bartimaeus who “saw” through the divinity of Jesus. As someone has said: “Bartimaeus was sightless but not blind.” The disciples were blind–even if they had eyesight.
Physical ailment is no obstacle to faith. On the contrary, it often brings people closer to God. It is spiritual blindness that weakens and even kills faith. Physical blindness is involuntary, while spiritual blindness is voluntary and self-imposed.
We are spiritually blind, 1) when we fail to see, or to admit, our faults, our shortcomings, our pride, our selfishness; 2) when we fail to see, or refuse to see, the needs of our fellowmen, the plight of the poor, the sick, the hungry and the jobless; 3) when we fail to see Christ in our brothers and sisters, but prefer to look for him in beautiful man-made images and historic shrines. Like Bartimaeus, let us approach Jesus and tell him, “Master, 1 want to see.”
Today’s gospel teaches us that, as followers of Christ, we must not drive people away from him or prevent them from coming to him–as the crowd accompanying Jesus did to Bartimaeus. They accompanied Jesus, all right, but they were not his followers; they had not grasped his spirit–the spirit of the Beatitudes, nor learned his love for the downtrodden. Perhaps they thought that Bartimaeus couldn’t talk to Jesus because he didn’t have an appointment.
Very often we, who are known in the community as “church people” (taong simbahan), think that we have the exclusive right to take part in church activities or to get the priest’s attention–and to keep other people out. Very often too, by our petty quarrels and intrigues, we turn people away from the church. To many, “taong simbahan” doesn’t mean a committed Christian, but rather a member of an exclusive and excluding circle, often characterized by a holier-than-thou attitude. It won’t hurt to do a little soul searching.
In the light of today’s gospel, let us ask ourselves: Are we leading others to Christ and to the Church, or are we driving them farther away? Are we a light for others, or are we stumbling blocks? Are we disciples or are we bodyguards?
as published on October 28, 2012, Parish Bulletin