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Just prior to my birth my maternal grandfather fell down a flight of stairs and suffered detached retinas in both eyes. While they tried surgery, it wasn’t successful and as a result he was blind for the rest of his life. Now as a small child, I just assumed that everyone had a grandfather who was blind. It didn’t dawn on me until I had started school that this was not the case. Once I realized that not everyone had a blind grandfather, I also began to realize the challenges and problems that being blind presented. While my grandfather accepted his situation with great grace, I suspect, given the opportunity, he would have chosen to have his sight restored. Such an opportunity was given to Bartimaeus, the blind man, in our Gospel today.
At the time of Jesus those who suffered from blindness or other physical ailments were almost always condemned to life as a beggar. Bartimaeus had obviously heard of Jesus and thought this might be the way out of his beggar’s life. So as Jesus was leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus seized the opportunity and cried out: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” While the disciples rebuked him, Bartimaeus called out all the more: “Son of David have pity on me.” Jesus responded to his faith and told him: “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” Faith --- here and elsewhere in the Gospels --- is a key ingredient for Jesus’ action. In this regard, even before his sight was restored Bartimaeus could “see” better than most.
Our first reading for this weekend is from the Prophet Jeremiah. In this reading the Lord promised to deliver his people from their exile and return them to the land He had given them. The people had “departed in tears,” but the Lord promised to “console them and guide them.” And among those who returned were “the blind and the lame.”
For our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews. In the section we read this weekend the author of the Letter to the Hebrews compares Jesus to the high priests of the Old Testament. The difference is clear, though, Jesus is the High Priest begotten by God. He was not chosen or taken from among men.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- When I was learning to drive, my instructor had a “mantra” for changing lanes: “signal, mirror, blind spot”------ turn on your signal; check your mirrors, and then look over your shoulder to check your blind spot. Have you ever become aware of a spiritual “blind spot” in your life? How did you deal with it?
- Physical blindness is obvious, but we can also be blind in other ways. Have you ever become aware of areas of blindness in your life?
- It is comforting for me to know that Jesus is like us in all things but sin. As high priest, he is always patient and forgiving with us. Is it possible, though, that we can take advantage of this?