When I reflect on the divisions that seem to exist between many of us in the U.S. and around the world, I find it most remarkable that individuals and groups of people can look at the same event or group of people and see entirely different things. The “caravan” of people coming from Central America is a good example. Some see a mass of humanity who have come together in desperation to find a better life. Others see a horde of invaders, threatening their safety and the security of the whole country. There seems to be little or no agreement about in which perception lies the truth.
I bring this up because our Gospel reading, in which Jesus encounters the blind man Bartimaeus, has to do with sight. Mark tells us that Bartimaeus, learning that Jesus is near, cries out to Him. Even though there are people who tell him to be quiet, he still cries out to Jesus, and Jesus has him come to Him. When Bartimaeus hears that, he throws off his cloak, springs up, and comes to Jesus. He is so anxious to come to Jesus that he comes with abandon! Are we that excited about coming to Jesus?
So Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Excitedly, Bartimaeus says, “Master, I want to see.” When it comes to “seeing,” do we come to Jesus, are or we content to stay with our preconceptions of others? Instead of springing up to meet Jesus, are we more willing to jump to conclusions?
It is true that Bartimaeus is asking for physical sight. He already has the sight of faith. But I wonder if he was willing to “see” even more than what physical sight would have granted him. When Bartimaeus answers that he wants to see, Jesus says, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” And then, Mark tells us, Bartimaeus receives his sight, and follows Jesus on His way. In going his way, Bartimaeus chooses to go Jesus’ way. And so maybe he was willing to see as Jesus sees.
Are we willing to see as Jesus sees? That is not an idle question. To be willing to see as Jesus sees might require a change of perception. It might require looking more deeply into an issue or a person’s story. It’s risky, but, like Bartimaeus, we can ask for sight, and Jesus will give it to us. And maybe then we can discover the truth.
Oh, Lord, give us the sight we need to follow You.
Fr. Phil, CP