Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks tells the story of Virgil, a man blind since childhood, whose sight was restored at age 50. Virgil could finally see colors and movements, but had great difficulty organizing them into recognizable objects. His habits and behaviors were still those of a blind man. Dr. Sacks concludes that having physical sight is not the same as actually seeing.
Today we see a vivid illustration of this truth. To truly see Jesus and his truth requires more from us than simply looking at Jesus, or hearing his teachings. It is going to require a change of direction, a change of life, and a transformation of our identity.
Bartimaeus, the blind man in today’s gospel, was ready to be changed. He was not ashamed to cry out for help. He promptly threw off everything that was holding him back and jumped up to respond to Jesus’ offer of healing. But Jesus puts the responsibility for healing back on Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus engages Jesus humbly yet with faith: “Teacher, let me see again.” His vision returned. Jesus’ response both heals and invites: “Go; your faith has made you well.” Go where? Bartimaeus chooses to follow Jesus in his ministry.
Like Bartimaeus, we should not just be consumers of God’s grace, but allow our healings to send us out to join Jesus in ministry. But, do we really want to be healed of our spiritual or emotional wounds?
It can be difficult to “throw off our cloaks” of pride, envy, dishonesty, grudge-bearing. We need the community of faith to hold us up in our efforts. Let us form a true family by offering each other the tender love of Jesus, until we all feel the strength to throw off what binds us, and follow our Healer with new hope.
“If the soul longs for nothing else than to love its God, then don’t worry and be quite sure that this soul possesses everything, that it possesses God himself” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina)… The Feast of All Saints on November 1 and All Souls on November 2 certainly are occasions in our Catholic faith to reflect on the virtue of Christian Hope..our call to live each day in holiness of life and the promise of eternal life when our earthly pilgrimage comes to an end. Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
Listen to my homily today:
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish