Praying for ‘faithful’ eyes

October 24, 2021 30th Sunday, Year B

How often in life do we find among a group of people, for example family members facing a crisis or drama, that different members see and interpret the situation so very differently. Indeed, different family members can have diametrically opposed views on what is happening before their very eyes. They don’t see the same thing! Seemingly, some don’t or can’t see!

We see this same phenomenon over and over again in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. So many people witnessed the miracles that he worked, observed the life that he lived, and heard the teachings that he gave, and yet only some really saw.

In fact, Jesus is surrounded by blindness. The scribes and Pharisees saw him as flouting the religious authorities and traditions they held dear. They saw, and yet they didn’t see!  Some disciples saw and followed him for a while, but then drifted away. They didn’t get it! Even the closest disciples didn’t really get what they saw in Jesus. James and his brother John, for example, implored Jesus to place them at his side in his kingdom.

Today’s gospel is a classic example. Towards the end of Jesus’ public ministry, many people flocked around Jesus, keen to see what he was doing, but it is only the blind beggar Bartimeus who truly sees Jesus. Hearing from people in the crowd that “Jesus of Nazareth” was passing by, Bartimeus calls out, “Jesus, son of David” (a messianic title, indicating that Bartimeus recognises Jesus as the longed-for Messiah). Blind though Bartimeus is, he is the one person in the story who actually sees who Jesus really is! He is physically blind but he sees with 20/20 spiritual vision!

Jesus then calls Bartimeus to him and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimeus replies, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus then heals him and tells him that his faith has saved him. Bartimeus then follows Jesus. He becomes a disciple. He walks the talk. He lives his faith.

But the people observing all this, all sighted people, didn’t know they were blind. We too are often blind and don’t know it. We can be blinded by fear or by injury or hurt. We can be blinded by preoccupation with material possessions or status, for example. We can really struggle, especially in hard times, to hold onto our faith in God and trust in God’s love and care for us.

The story of Bartimeus reminds us that, though we might not see it, we are all in need of healing, of sight, and of faith. Jesus asks each of us: What do you want me to do for you?” Like Bartimeus, let us pray, “Lord, I want to see.” We pray for the eyes of faith to see who Jesus really is and to follow him ever more closely and faithfully.

Anne Hunt

© Majellan Media 2021