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Thirtieth Sunday of Year B

Sunday, 25 October, 2015
Mark 10:46-52

‘There is a saying in Tibet that tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties we have or how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster’ (Dalai Lama XIV). The blind beggar in today’s gospel story had lost the sight of his eyes, but had not lost his insight nor his hope. Before he asks to see again Bartimaeus pleads with Jesus to have mercy on him. Mercy is a response to the whole human condition, not just to sin. The mercy of Jesus transforms mind, heart and understanding. Touched and healed by that mercy Bartimaeus begins to see as God sees. God beholds us with compassion and reverence, he sees what is now and what can be. Faith in him brings new sight. When he opens the eyes of the blind he grants them vision, deeper insight into reality and the wisdom to interpret experience correctly. Helen Keller, who at a young age became deaf and blind, wrote, ‘Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.’ Her words describe very accurately the experience of Bartimaeus. His faith saved him. His persistence brought him into direct personal contact with Jesus’ healing power.

The mercy he sought is a gift that would impact on the quality of his freedom. In the first place it freed him to be real, to be at ease with the reality that inside him was a deep need for God. Bartimaeus has an important message for a world where many are trying to convince themselves that they don’t need God or his mercy. Many are flying in the face of reality when they try to persuade themselves that all the choices they make are good. We see as we are able to see. We are limited in intelligence, in wisdom, in prudence, in experience. Our limitations can lead us to make flawed decisions. Like Bartimaeus, we need to have our eyes opened so that we can see more clearly.

The mercy that Bartimaeus sought from Jesus is a compassion that touches wounds and brings wholeness. Pope Francis has described the world as a ‘field hospital’ where there is great need for such healing. Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of the pain caused by the greatest poverty of our time, the poverty of not having God. The refugee crisis is leading to increased anxiety and fear. There is mounting frustration at our inability to solve the massive problems caused by war, famine, persecution. Where the mercy of God is invited into these situations there is greater calm and more courage to face reality and respond to it. Bartimaeus found himself renewed and transformed by his experience of that mercy. With a new inner freedom he chose to follow Jesus all the way to Jerusalem and to set his face toward an unknown future with trust and with hope. Through meeting Jesus the eyes of his mind and heart had been opened and he saw what the Lord wanted of him. With the enthusiasm that gratitude and faith can inspire he set off for Jerusalem. To reach his goal he would need Jesus to continue to heal his blind spots and open his eyes in wonder.


For prayer: 

It is only with the heart that we can see rightly (The Little Prince). True for me ?