WITH NEW EYES
The healing of the blind man Bartimaeus is told by Mark in order to urge the Christian communities to leave behind their blindness and mediocrity. Only then will they follow Jesus on the path of the Gospel. The story is one of surprising relevance for the Church of our day.
Bartimaeus is «a blind beggar sitting at the side of the road». His life is always in the dark. He’s heard talk about Jesus, but doesn’t know how he looks. He can’t follow him. He’s next to the path on which Jesus passes, but he’s off of it. Isn’t that our situation? Christian blind people sitting near the path, unable to follow Jesus?
We’re in the dark. We don’t know Jesus. We lack the light to follow his path. We’re ignorant of where the Church is heading. We don’t know at all what future we want for her. We’re stuck in a religion that doesn’t succeed in converting us into followers of Jesus, living the Gospel together: we’re off the path. What can we do?
In spite of his blindness, Bartimaeus figures out that Jesus is passing near him. He doesn’t hesitate for an instant. Something tells him that his salvation is in Jesus. «Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me». This shout, repeated with faith, gives rise to his healing. Today we hear in the Church complaints and laments, critiques, protests and mutual recriminations. Not heard is the humble and trusting prayer of the blind man. We’ve forgotten that only Jesus can save this Church. We don’t perceive his presence nearby. We only believe in ourselves.
The blind man doesn’t see, but he knows how to listen to Jesus’ voice that reaches him by means of his messengers: «Courage, get up; he is calling you». This is the climate we need to create in the Church. Encourage one another mutually to react. Don’t keep ourselves all nicely set up in a conventional religion. Get back to Jesus who is calling us. This is the first pastoral objective.
The blind man reacts admirably: he throws off the cloak that keeps him from getting up, jumps up in the midst of his darkness and comes up to Jesus. From his heart there springs only one petition: «Rabbuni, let me see again». If his eyes are opened, everything will change. His story ends by saying that the blind man recovered his sight and «he followed him along the road».
This is the healing that we Christians need today. The qualitative leap that can change the Church. If our way of looking at Jesus changes, if we read his Gospel with new eyes, if we capture the originality of his message and be passionate about his project of a more human world, Jesus’ power will sweep us along. Our communities will know the joy of following at his side.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf