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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR OCT. 24 | Putting our trust in Jesus helps us to truly see

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time | Bartimaeus can be our guide in walking by faith and not by sight

We are given another opportunity on the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time to reflect on the Scriptures and to more deeply receive the gifts that Jesus has to offer to us. This weekend, the Scripture from the Gospels focuses on the gift of sight. Although the narrative involves the physical healing of a blind person, this Gospel is meant to take us into every aspect of blindness that we find in ourselves.

Before I go into the various ways that we experience blindness, we must answer the question that Jesus asks this blind man. What is it that we are asking of Jesus? Are we truly asking Him for full sight and understanding, or do we only want to see the things with which we agree? Are we merely searching for a pat on the back for the way we were already living our lives? Do we want a selective gift of sight or would we really like to see through the eyes and the heart of God? Our answer to this question should be honest, otherwise we are simply playing games with God.

If your answer to Jesus is that you want to see, then follow the journey that Jesus takes us on as He heals this blind person. In addition to the blindness that we see in Bartimaeus, there is also a blindness in Jesus’ disciples. They do notice the blind man but they see him as an obstacle and a nuisance. Because of his blindness, they failed to recognize his human dignity. They believe that he is not worthy of Jesus’ attention and healing. Because of his physical weakness, they judge him to be unworthy to take up the time of Jesus.

Have you ever noticed in yourself a tendency to walk by folks who are weak or damaged in some way, because they are not worthy or don’t seem open to hearing the good news of Jesus Christ? Have you ever looked at another human being and secretly thought them to be less than yourself because of choices they have made? We each have some hidden blindness, and the question remains if we really want to see.

Notice also in the Gospel story that the blind man throws aside his cloak as he moves toward Jesus. His cloak is his security against the cold of night. It may also protect him from being hurt by the stones that people throw at him or keep him from being covered by their spit. You know how we sometimes pick on those who are more broken than we are, rather than seeking the healing that each of us needs? As he throws aside his cloak, he makes an act of faith. His choice to leave his safe place along the side of the road, cast aside his cloak and seek out Jesus in the darkness of his blindness are all steps in faith.

Jesus tells him that he is healed because he has such great faith. I wonder if each of us are so deeply willing to trust Jesus that we would be willing to set aside the objects that give us security and put our total trust in Jesus, even before we experience our healing and receive our gift from Him?

The miracle stories that we see in the Gospels are truly amazing. We could look at them with wonder and awe and be wowed by the power of Jesus. If that is where we stop, then we are not truly learning the lessons that are offered to each of us.

We ought to remember that Jesus warned us about basing faith on signs and wonders. He asked us instead to base our faith on the promises that we have been given by God, rather than being wowed by always getting our way and asking for miracles. He wants us to truly trust Him and to walk by faith and not by sight. He wants us to throw aside the artificial cloaks of security in things, power and position and instead recall how faithful God has been to us. May Bartimaeus be our guiding light to Jesus.

Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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