Learning to See

Posted on October 19, 2021 by Published by

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time — Year B

Often in our lives we experience certain things that we do not understand. We have weaknesses that we cannot overcome. At times we might feel lost and confused; we wonder if God still loves us, if we are on the right path. This area of our life in which we do not see or perceive might very well be the place where God’s reality resides. And, if God opens our eyes and ears to see and hear about Him, then we will be consumed with unfathomable happiness. Such was the case in the life of Bartimaeus.

When the blind man Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus, he cannot see but he believes that Jesus will heal him. The people surrounding Jesus try to silence Bartimaeus. They know that Jesus is either a prophet or a master. Bartimaeus, however, is an outcast of society; he is someone who, according to the way of thinking of that time, is being punished for his sins. He should not be disturbing someone like Jesus. And so, the people try to make him be quiet.

It is interesting because the people following Jesus completely change their minds about Bartimaeus the moment that Jesus acknowledges him and calls him to come forward. They stop trying to silence Bartimaeus and, instead, encourage him to go forward. This sudden change in thinking demonstrates what psychologists call the “mob mentality.” This happens when people make their own personal decisions based on what everyone else is doing or saying. Often the “mob” does not even really take time to think. If the people had taken time to think, they would have perceived that their attitude toward Bartimaeus was contradictory: at one moment they were trying to silence him, and in the next moment, they were frantically encouraging Bartimaeus to approach Jesus.

Bartimaeus knows that he is blind. He knows that he cannot see, and with great faith he asks to be healed. When Jesus heals him, Bartimaeus immediately receives his sight and follows Jesus on the way. If Bartimaeus had been seeking only physical healing, then he could have simply thanked Jesus and gone his own way. Instead, Bartimaeus decides to follow Jesus. This signifies that Bartimaeus receives more than just physical sight; he receives spiritual sight as well. And this spiritual sight gives him the courage not just to follow Jesus blindly like the crowd, but to imitate Jesus in how He lives and serves.

Following and imitating Jesus requires faith, humility, and recognition that we cannot heal ourselves. At our baptism, we received the gift of new sight and grace, which enables us to truly follow Christ and imitate Him. There is always the danger, however, that we will become indifferent, lazy, or distracted by the crowd. There is always the chance that, rather than truly seeking Christ Himself, we follow what everyone else thinks, even to the point of leaving the Church and leaving Jesus. We as baptized Catholics, however, need to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of spiritual sight; we must care about the formation of our consciences and about following the voice of God that speaks within our hearts.

Yours in Christ,
Father Arthur

Readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Lectionary 149


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