Jeremiah 31:7-9 • Hebrews 5:1-6 • Mark 10:46-52 30 Ordinary B 12
Today we are privileged to hear Mark’s story of a man named Bartimaeus. Which do you think was most Bartimaeus’ most significant characteristic – that he was blind, the son of Timaeus, a beggar, persistent, courageous, or a man of faith?
I presume most will answer, “that he was blind.” So “blindness” will be the focus of my homily. I begin with a simple definition of “blindness” from Webster’s dictionary. “Blindness is not being able to see.” With that in mind and please consider this.
Two psychologists conducted an experiment. People are instructed to count the number of passes a team makes during a basketball game. While they are counting, a girl in a gorilla outfit suddenly appears, weaving her way among the players, at times even standing in front of them. When the playing stops, the participants are asked two questions. How many passes did the team make? Did you see the gorilla? Almost everyone nailed the number of passes. Very few even noticed the gorilla!
The psychologists concluded that no one sees everything that passes before their eyes. We only see what we’re conditioned to see or what we’re looking for. We miss a lot of what’s right in front of us.
In other words all of us are blind in some way! No one sees everything that passes before their eyes.
This week I checked out some of the movies in the annual Missoula CINE Festival at the Roxy, like Brian Swimme’s film –“Journey of The Universe.” WOW! We live in an absolutely enormous cosmic reality that is so far beyond the physical ability of most of us to comprehend. Webster defined “blindness” as “not being able to see.”
I watched the third Presidential debate. Two very intelligent, highly educated men discussed our nation’s foreign policy. Both spoke of Israel as “an ally we will defend at any cost.” Neither mentioned the root cause of most problems in the Middle East, which is the 65-year illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel. Neither expressed concern about Israel’s sizeable nuclear arsenal. Webster defined “blindness” as “not being able to see.”
We breathe — inhaling/exhaling twenty-four hours a day. The sun often paints the evening sky — in colors of red, blue and gold. In morning darkness — the clock ticks. Autumn colors — transform our streets. The Clark Fork River — flows and flows and flows. A Gracious Mystery we name “God” infuses, sustains and draws the cosmos into our unknown future. Webster defined “blindness” as “not being able to see.”
Pink-cheeked infants, newly-weds and incontinent elders remind us of our common humanity. We benefit in many ways from our cultural, linguistic and religious differences. All seven billion of us now living on Earth are kindred. Yet violence and wars never cease. Webster defined “blindness” as “not being able to see.”
When Mark identified those seven characteristics of Bartimaeus he actually omitted the most significant. Bartimaeus was “humble.” He knew and admitted he was “not able to see.” It was his humility that moved him to ask, “Master, I want to see.” In response Jesus told him, “go your way; your faith has saved you.” Freed of blindness Bartimaeus had endless options for his life. He chose to “follow Jesus on the way.” He chose to engage in a process of spiritual growth. That means taking on the mind of Christ and reorienting one’s psyche. It means imitating Christ and living our human lives as fully and deeply as possible. It means becoming fully human, seeing everyone and everything around us in a new way.
We are Bartimaeus! He was humble and prayed, “Lord, I want to see!”