30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Jer 31:7-9; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52) “With Eyes Wide Open” PDF Version
Homily for the 30th Sunday of OT, Year B (2018): Jer 31:7-9; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52
Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, was and will continue to be a dangerous man to whom people made dangerous requests! He was dangerous not only on account of the manifold ways His teaching and mission unsettled the people and powers of His day, but also in the copious instances He would change someone’s life and allow them to see how He had set them on the dangerous path of following Him as a disciple.
At first glance, there does not seem to be anything that dangerous about a blind man asking to be given back His sight! Rather, it was a humble request made by a long suffering man to regain what we often take for granted: the ability to confront this world with eyes wide open, observing both the crushing beauty and gut wrenching horrors of world around us.
Jesus showed Bartimaeus mercy in restoring his sight, but also set this man on a dangerous path. The danger resided in the way that Bartimaeus must now be a living witness to the coming of the Messiah into the world. In his own flesh, Bartimaeus would be a fulfillment of the prophecy made by Jeremiah, that one of many signs that the Christ had come into the world was that He would lead the blind, setting before them a straight path in which they would not stumble; for He would restore their sight and make them witnesses that salvation had come to God’s people.
In addition, Bartimaeus would also bear witness to the Messiah being the great High Priest whose priesthood descended from the line of Melchizedek. This mysterious priest, Melchizedek, was also the ancient king of the city of Salem, later known as Jerusalem, who long ago offered a sacrifice of bread and wine as a thanksgiving offering to God on behalf of Abraham for a victory the great patriarch of Israel won over his enemies.
Many in Jesus’ day believed that the Messiah would be both a priest and a king, whose priesthood was from the ancient past and could make atonement for the sins of his people, while his kingship was hoped to bring liberation to his nation and restoration of the kingdom of the House of David that was destroyed hundreds of years before…
Also, many in Jesus’ day believed the effects of sin were manifested in physical defects such as blindness, meaning that the restoration of Bartimaeus’ sight was a sign that the priestly Messiah had come, blotting out the ravages of sin that not only harmed the soul but also brought physical anguish to humanity.
Hence, the danger Bartimaeus now faced was that people would see in Him living proof that Jesus was the Son of David, fulfilling the prophecies of Jeremiah to lead the blind to salvation and in his healing show that Jesus was also the promised priest-king. Many would rejoice with Bartimaeus that the Messiah had shown him such mercy, but many would see him a liability of the safety of the people since his very existence gave further credibility to the claim that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel.
In a spiritual sense, we may discover that to ask Jesus to help us to restore our sight will also be the first step along a dangerous path. Few of us likely suffer from physical blindness, but if we are honest with ourselves, I think we can all admit we suffer from some degree of spiritual blindness that is preventing us from following Jesus with total devotion and in perfect trust. And imagine what will happen if we asked Him to remove that spiritual blindness, seeing ourselves with His eyes, and allowing His gaze to penetrate the very depth of our souls!
We may not like what we see when the spiritual blindness is pulled back. We may have confront sins that we have long buried and become accustomed to living with, not realizing just how much they have been poisoning our relationship with God and others.
But if we are willing to have Christ remove any spiritual blindness, we will have availed ourselves to once again encounter God’s mercy; for mercy is when God meets us in our misery and looks to alleviate our suffering, but only if we are willing to allow Him to heal us in the ways He knows best and not simply in the ways we think we should be healed.
Hence my friends, the dangerous prayer Bartimaeus once made: Lord, let me see again! This request could be set us on a path that even angels might fear to treed, thus it would be good for us to ask angels to guide us along the way!
God gave each and every human being a guardian angel when we were conceived in our mother’s womb. This celestial protector can be an intimate friend or a great stranger depending on how much value we place in cultivating a friendship with our heavenly guide.
They certainly keep us safe from physical danger but more importantly they look to help us from falling into spiritual pitfalls and will admonish us, in love, to turn away from sin. They can help us to see ourselves for who we truly are and give us renewed confidence in knowing that each of us still has much work to do, with God’s grace, in removing sin from our lives.
A simple way to allow our guardian angel to help us open our eyes to walk in God’s ways is to take a few minutes every day examining our conscience and asking our angel to help us see how we lived this day. We can ask our angel to help us see where we did good, those moments we knew God’s love and then steal a moment to thank the Lord for all the blessings of this day. Then we can ask our angel to help us see where we fell, where we choose sin and where we need to seek forgiveness.
We can ask our angel further to help us know which sins we need to bring to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, lest they fester in our soul too long and make us blind to the ways we are not following Christ as His disciples.
Our angel above all else wants us to be in heaven where the Heavenly Hosts reside. Let us then allow them to guide as all our days, to help us open our eyes to see God’s love and to let us see where we need to ask for God’s grace to remove the darkness of sin.