Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time|Year B
Mark 10: 46 - 52
As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’ And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and said. ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Courage,’ they said ‘get up; he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbuni,’ the blind man said to him ‘Master, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go, your faith has saved you.’ And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.
When Jesus asked the blind man what he wanted the man replied “Master, let me see again”. This man was not blind from birth; he had previously been able to see and something had happened which rendered him blind. Perhaps the knowledge of what he had lost was felt so acutely by the blind man that it gave him the confidence to call out loudly, despite the scolding of the people around him.
Jesus entered the world of the blind man, breaking into his darkness and returning him to the world he had known before he lost his sight. This encounter with Jesus must have been profound for the blind man, so much so that he followed Jesus rather than racing off to his friends and family.
In his Confessions St Augustine describes encountering Jesus in a way which was just as profound, although it was not connected to physical healing:
“You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.”
Blindness can creep up on us in the form of things we don’t want to know about, and which over time we cease to see. Being blind to one’s own blindness compounds the problem.
Everyone of us has blindspots, born of our life experience, our upbringing, perhaps hurt or harm we have suffered, which make it too hard to acknowledge some realities and to deal with them in a spiritual way. Sometimes we just don’t want to open our eyes to the vision God is presenting to us, because it involves too much change.
Like the blind man there were times in our lives when we did see. His request of Jesus “Master, let me see again” is a powerful prayer, which if we have the courage to use it, may lead us down the same path as St Augustine, so that we too can say: “You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours”.