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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Christ heals spiritual and physical blindness

“Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man replied to Him, ‘Master, I want to see.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.’”

Behind all three readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time is the implicit realization that God desires to share His goodness with His people.

In the first reading from Jeremiah, the Lord commands the Israelites in captivity to rejoice because they have been set free. They are to praise God and rejoice that God has delivered His people: “I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame and in their midst the mothers of those with child; they shall return as an immense throng.”

Not everyone is returning, but only the most vulnerable, the blind and the lame and pregnant mothers. These are being restored as the remnant of Israel. God returns the weakest among them and will use them to restore Israel.

God will lead these to “brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble.” God makes it evident that He is a resourceful God with unlimited goodness in store for His people. Hence, it will be evident to all nations that Israel is special, and loved by the Lord.

How would our lives change if we saw God as resourceful instead of simply a God of laws?

In the second reading, the Lord tells us, “… every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.”

God chooses sinners to be His high priests because they will know how to deal patiently with sinners. God enters fully into the human condition. No human condition is beyond the pale of His mercy.

As Jesus was going to Jerusalem for the final time, He encountered a blind man by the name of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus and had longed to meet Him. Therefore, when Jesus was coming, he shouted, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”

Those in the company of Jesus told him to keep silent, but he shouted all the louder. At this point Jesus intervened and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”

Jesus told him, “Go on your way, your faith has saved you.” Immediately, Bartimaeus received his sight and followed Jesus on the way.

There are many levels of meaning in this story. On the part of Bartimaeus, he obviously had heard about Jesus and some of the wonders He worked. Since his eyes were imprisoned in darkness, the light of faith kicked in. He had a profound desire to someday meet Jesus, with the hope that he might see and participate in life as his friends had.

This longing was with him when he went to bed and when he arose in the morning. He knew that this man Jesus was the Son of David. He had heard about the large crowds Jesus attracted, so when Jesus was in the neighborhood, there was no stopping him from manifesting his profoundest hope and desire.

The longing of a lifetime was expressed in his hope-filled cry: “Master, I want to see.” Christ, who reads hearts, granted both a blindness of physical and spiritual sight. “He immediately received his sight and followed Him on the way.”

We are also told that Jesus used this healing of Bartimaeus to signal to His disciples that they are on their way to be healed of their spiritual blindness. They know of Jesus, but they don’t know Jesus. Only after the Resurrection are their spiritual eyes really opened. “Their eyes were opened and they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.”

Like the apostles and Bartimaeus, we are following Jesus every day, so we think. Some days are better than others. Some days we feel close to Jesus and on other days we feel quite distant, like a failure. The closeness we had yesterday is gone and may never return, so we often think.

Like the apostles, we see Jesus doing wonderful things some days, yet other days these experiences fade away. Like the apostles, we move forward with hope but not with sight.

What we forget is that we have a God of compassion and love with a relentless passion to pursue us again and again. God is calling us not to look at ourselves, but upon Him as a God of compassion and mercy.

In the first reading we are encouraged to “Shout for joy … exult at the head of the nations; and proclaim your praise and say, ‘The Lord has delivered His people….’” In the second reading God encourages us to have hope because He has taken sinners from our midst and has them act as our high priest before the throne of God because they are weak and can sympathize with us a sinners.

In the Gospel, Jesus wants to heal us of our blindness and see the bright light of the Resurrection in our future. The greater our weakness, the greater is the compassion we can expect, as we humble ourselves to receive the mercy that will glorify Him.

With Bartimaeus, let us run to Jesus and shout, “Jesus, I want to see!”

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