Sunday, October 25, 2009

Year B 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Jer. 31:7-9; Ps 126:1-6; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52

Whenever we encounter instances of Jesus performing miracles, like his restoring Bartimaeus’ eyesight in today’s Gospel, it is easy to overlook what is really important about these miraculous events, namely that they are meant to reveal him, to open our eyes in order for us to see that it is Jesus Christ who saves, heals, and liberates us from all that binds- the powers of the world, of sickness, and ultimately of death itself. Because it begins with the words, “Thus says the LORD,” our reading from Jeremiah is an oracle of salvation, which invites us to praise God and to proclaim God’s goodness to others, as does the prophet who rejoices in Israel’s return from exile.

Jesus’ restoring the blind man’s sight causes him not only to physically see, but to see things clearly for the first time, which means to see Jesus, who is Christ the Lord. This is indicated by the fact that, upon gaining his sight, Bartimaeus followed Jesus on his way (Mark10:52). It requires no great leap on our part to see that the primary concern in our Gospel today is spiritual blindness. It is important to note that this retelling comes at the end of a section of St. Mark’s Gospel about discipleship that begins in chapter eight with Jesus healing the blind man at Bethsaida. For the disciple, to truly see does not mean to see as Jesus sees, but to see Jesus and to follow him. Like Bartimaeus, in addition to gaining our sight, we must also to throw off the cloak that shields us from the demands of being Christ’s disciples, of not only seeing things in light of the Gospel, but acting in accordance with what we see, which is to act rationally.

In our present situation the blindness that is too pervasive is blindness to our humanity, to what it means to be human. Even in this age of liberation in the western world, we reduce our humanity at every turn. In our blindness we resist this at the level of ideology, which often devolves into many pointless political disputes. Such disputes are quite frequently irresolvable due to the fact that while we argue for the correct position (i.e., what the church teaches), we do so using the same premises as those with whom we dispute. In other words, the real struggle of our current situation is anthropological, it is about what being human means, which cannot be correctly understood apart from the Incarnation of the Son of God, who came to free us and to restore us to our authentic nature.

Liberation in and through Christ Jesus comes at a cost, the cost of following him, which costs nothing less than your whole life. As Bartimaeus and the other disciples discovered, following Jesus on his way means following him to the cross, the destination to which the entirety of the Gospel According Saint Mark leads. It is the cross, as you experience it in and through the circumstances of your life that allows you to emerge from your confusion, your blindness. In the words of the author Juan Manuel de Prada, Jesus shows us that we "do not need to build towers in order to reach heaven, for the simple reason that heaven is already within [us]..."

Our authentic nature as human beings, what constitutes us at our deepest level, is the fact that you and I are a direct relationship with God. It is in and through Christ, who, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, did not glorify “himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him ‘You are my son…’” that we directly come to know our authentic nature, recognizing it first in ourselves and then in others (Heb. 5:5). Stated simply, it is only through Christ that can truly see what it means to be human.

So, today, the Lord’s Day, on which we commemorate and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one who heals and liberates us from everything that afflicts and binds, even death, along with Bartimaeus and the prophet Jeremiah, we gratefully acknowledge the great things God has done for us through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is why "we are filled with joy." Gaining our spiritual sight means to see that "[t]he eternal revolution," wrought by Christ, "consists in revealing to us "the meaning of life, restoring to us our [authentic] nature; from this discovery is born a joy with no expiration date" (Juan Manuel de Prada). So, like Bartemaeus, take courage because Jesus is calling you to follow him on his way to glory, which is your destiny. After all, he did not come to make our way his way, but to make his way ours.

Veni Sancti Spiritus, veni per Mariam.

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