By Jerry Franzen Cathedral 10/27/12
Jerimiah 31: 7-9 Hebrews 5: 1-6 Mark 10:46-52
We are prone to take for granted our ability to see.
It’s one of those many things for which I should thank God daily.
I had a blind student in one of my classes at Thomas More College.
I caught myself introducing new terminology,
writing new words on the board without spelling them,
making drawings without describing them.
And saying things like, “As you can see.......” I would think,
“No, Jennifer can’t see.
I’ve got to spell it out so she can understand.”
This is what we try to do with God’s word,
spell it out so we can see into it with a clearer vision.
Let’s look at today’s Gospel, a short simple story,
a series of six verses that prompt some significant questions
that should help us to see more clearly what we are doing here today.
Jesus was leaving Jericho.
“Leaving Jericho” meant the final leg on the journey to Jerusalem.
Up to Jerusalem, and there, Jesus will be led to the Cross.
From Jericho, Jesus could have turned back to Galilee;
but he did not turn back.
According to the author of St. Mark’s Gospel,
it is now certain what the Lord’s destination will be.
The “way” of the Lord will lead to the Cross.
1. First Question: By our coming here today,
by our not turning back,
do we recognize that we are also indicating our willingness
to be led to the cross?
A blind beggar, “Bartimeus,” upon hearing that Jesus was passing by,
began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.”
His cry is interesting because he calls Jesus, “Son of David.”
The Jewish people were well aware that it was expected
that the Messiah would be a descendent of King David.
This blind beggar already had more insight
than many of the sighted in Jesus’ presence.
Many of Jesus’ the disciples, those close to Him,
didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah, the “Son of David.”
You have to wonder, don’t you,…
how did this blind man come to such an insight?
Might there have been some followers of Jesus
who had already spread the good news about the “Son of David”
to the people of Jericho, going out ahead of the Lord?
We come to Mass much like this beggar.
We, too, have already heard of the Son of David.
2. That prompts another question:
Do our words and, more importantly, our presence here,
really and truly proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah?
If what the blind beggar shouted was something of a surprise,
what follows is pretty much to be expected.
The good folks in the crowd tried to hush him up.
Jesus’ fame was growing and his disciples were basking in the glow,
when this shout shatters the glory of the moment in Jerico.
Apparently, blind beggars were to be seen and not heard;
but no, Bartimaeus shouts at the top of his voice,
“Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.”
The response was to silence the beggar
so the disciples could get back to their focus on Jesus
and have him focus on them.
But Bartimaeus would not be silenced and he would not go away.
This big day in Jericho was going sour fast.
Just imagine the sanctimonious editorial in the Jericho paper
-- fretting about the problem of beggars in the city,
proposing that the city council enact some law
that will prevent such embarrassments in the future.
Of course, if we really think about it,
what Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus is neither shocking nor unusual.
He pled, “have pity on me,” “have mercy on me!”
No different than what we have already pled as this Mass began:
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
I find it rather interesting that a precedent for our plea of “Lord, have mercy”
was a similar shout from a beggar that received a rebuke
from the “proper” people of Jericho.
3. So, would we still voice our plea for mercy,
if it meant rebuke from the “proper” people of this world?
Would we still raise our voices, asking Christ for mercy
in the face of the world’s ridicule and shaming?
Interesting question. Apparently Bartimeus had nothing to lose.
What do we have to lose?
And then the scene focused on Jesus,
who stopped and directed those in the crowd to “Call him.”
So they called to Bartimeus, “Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you.”
How fortunate for Batimeus, to hear those words:
“Take heart, arise, Jesus is calling you.”
For some of us,
we heard similar words during a Cursillo or Christ Renews His Parish,
or a Retreat, or a Parish Mission.
Some have heard these words in the course of their daily work,
or in prayer
and others while taking in the grandeur of nature.
4. Is this not the essence of every Sunday’s readings and homily,
the search for what God has in mind when he calls to us,
a deeper sense of purpose in our family life and work,
an invitation to share in the ministry of Christ in a special way?
Every Sunday we continue the search for what God has in mind for us, our call.
A new vocation. A healing. Certainly salvation.
Jesus then gave Bartimaeus the opportunity to say for himself
what rested most deeply within his soul:
“What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied, “Master, I want to see.”
Notice that the miracle of fresh sight for this man
is not only about to happen, it has been happening!
He already “sees” who Jesus is
and has such courage in Jesus’ presence to call him, “Master.”
We might be prone to shout, “Bartimaeus, you already have such vision!”
I wish to God that everyone baptized into Christ’s Body
had that much insight and devotion to the Lord!
Bartimaeus wants to see, to see more of his Master.
5. Is that not what we want also?
We want to see more of Jesus in the bread and wine.
Like Bartimeus, we expect a miracle,
that what we see as bread and wine is really Jesus.
But we want to see Jesus more than just with our eyes;
there is yet another miracle we want: we expect more.
There is a song that expresses very well what we further expect.
The song is “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord.”
I think that title captures quite well the “more” that we are after.
It’s not enough that we just have the image carried by the light to our retina
which sends the impulses corresponding to the image to our brain.
Although we say “Seeing is believing,” it can’t stop there.
We want the eyes of our heart to be opened,
so that we not only see with our eyes,
but that we also see the Lord with our hearts.
The response from Jesus was both a dismissal and a pronouncement.
“Go your way,” says the Lord, “your faith has saved you.”
“Immediately,” Mark tells us, “he received his sight.”
He was saved and healed and dismissed.
6. Like Bartimaeus, will we not know more deeply our salvation
and our healing at this Eucharist?
“...but only say the word and my soul shall be healed,”
is the last thing we say before receiving communion.
And what did Bartimaeus do after being dismissed.
Was it back to the business of his old life
as if nothing had happened in this meeting with Jesus?
No, “he followed Jesus on the way.”
Up to Jerusalem. Up to Calvary. Up to Easter.
The words of dismissal Bartimeus received were for him
the invitation to be a witness to the Good News in the world.
7. What will be our response in action to the dismissal
we will hear as this Mass is completed?
Which way will we go: back to our old ways or more on God’s path?
Today, may the Lord grant us the grace to go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.