What is it like not to be able to physically see? Many of us have seen a person with a visual impairment using a white cane to move about society. Many with a visual impairment rely on sounds around them: sounds of cars at intersections; sounds of doors closing; sounds of people's voices. For sighted people a fresh white snow with the bright blue ski in the back ground is a wonderful sight. However a fresh snow for a person who is blind muffles the familiar sounds which are a big help to them. Tom and Linda Schmidt annually have an outing for those people with visual impairments so they can experience life around them in an exhilarating and safe way. Thank you Tom and Linda for your ministry.
At one of our staff meetings at the hospital a number of years ago a man came to share with us his gift of sight. He was from The Gift of Hope-an organ donation program. He told us he had never "seen" his wife nor "seen" his two children. He could Braille their face and feel their hair but had never seen them as he was blind. He was the recipient of bilateral corneas---through the organ donation program. With tears running down his face he told of the first time he could "see" his wife-how beautiful she was: how he marveled at the sight of his two children---the beauty of a child is forever.
In the Gospel of Mark we hear of Bartimeaus who was a beggar; unemployed; and blind. He was known to the community as just such a person. The blindness he endured was healed. In other examples of Jesus curing people-the curing is related to the person "doing" something or Jesus "doing" something to and for the person being cured.
During Lent there is the reading (John 9: 1-38) of Jesus taking spittle and placing it on the blind person's eyes and the person is told to wash in the river and his sight is returned. A few weeks ago Jesus put his hand on the ears and mouth of the man who was deaf and mute and told him EPHPHATA-Be open-and the man was cured.
In today's story of the cure Jesus did nothing and did not have the person being cured do anything. As the Gospel narrative goes, "Jesus said to him, what do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied, "Master, I want to see". Jesus told him, "Go your way your faith has saved you". Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
What is more devastating in life: a physical impairment-loss of sight or an interior impairment---loss of sight. Medical practice today can do wonders and at the same time can do little. Physical disabilities at times can be cured, fixed, bones do heal, physical hearing and sight at times can be restored; mental illness can at times be monitored with medication and therapy.
How does one fix a broken heart? How does one open a closed mind? How does one soothe that pain of loss that can not be replaced? Perhaps some of you like me have been on our knees, with tears streaming down our face, begging like Bartimeaus, "Master, I want to see". I want to see the "why", the "how"; the "when"; I want answers to all the unanswered events in my life. Will Jesus say to me as he did to Bartimeaus, "Bob, go your way your faith has saved you."
Perhaps many of us are sitting by the side of the road of life we travel unable to see the presence of God as God is revealed to us. We may be unable to see as we are blinded by so many things that are not of God that our vision is blurred. The beauty of God may be before us all the time but we can not see.
Is it a lack of faith; a lack of understanding; a stubbornness that will only allow "my way" rather than "God's way"? All of our life's situations and journeys are our own as we each have a ministry and mission to complete. I am like the beggar Bartimeaus as I sit by the side of the road begging to see---to see the real meaning of what God has revealed to me; what God is asking of me.
The disciples of Jesus in today's Gospel got side tracked by trying to establish a dualistic society. They tried to keep the blind Bartimaeus away from contact with Jesus. Many today do the same thing as the disciples were doing. Jesus was establishing an inclusive society rather than an exclusive society. No one is better than another. Everyone is equal and is honored as a sister and brother as a daughter and a son of the same inclusive God. Jesus did not turn anyone away---rather Jesus called Bartimaeus to himself and freely honored him and healed him. At times do we become blinded by our confusion, bitterness, anger, resentment, hostility? Does our vision become blurred to the extent that we can only see ourselves and false importance? Does our blurred vision preclude seeing Jesus in each other?
Jesus is the ultimate physician. He will heal us and touch our lives. Jesus knows where our blindness lays. Is it physical, emotional, spiritual? Jesus knows what we must do to be healed. The healing we experience is the same healing Bartimaeus experienced. Like Bartimaeus we must answer the same question from Jesus, "What do you want me to do for you?" We must have the same answer----"I want to see!" And Jesus will say to us, "Go your way-your faith has saved you".