30 Sunday in Ordinary Time
Introduction to the Celebration
We are gathered here as people called to share in the Lord’s supper. As such, it is appropriate that we should be at least on speaking terms with each other, so let us introduce ourselves to each other by way of preparing for this celebration.
One example of blindness
1. Blindness is terrifying. Darkness brings before us all our terrors. Not being able to see where we are going is the stuff of most human fears. The poverty and blindness of Bartimaeus speak to any human being of feeling — and, indeed, if there is someone to whom it does not speak, then that person probably would have no time for religion or things of the spirit as she/he would be insensitive to promptings in our imagination that lead us to faith.
2. But thinking of poor, blind, ignored Bartimaeus can distract us. We can listen to this gospel but only hear it in the way we hear a ‘news item’: another detail, a bit of information about someone far away which we might simply believe, or refuse to believe, or simply note that we know it.
‘Oh yes, Bartimaeus, is that not the guy Jesus healed near Jericho or ‘Yes, wasn’t he a lucky guy: right place, right time!’ or ‘That story of Bartimaeus: shows how gullible people were in those days and the power of religious preachers to get their followers to accept accidents or falsehoods as miracles!’
3. Much as these are interesting approaches, all three miss the point, for Mark’s story of the incident of sight being restored is intended to alert every one who hears the gospel to the nature of the work of Jesus.
4. Recall the proverb: ‘There is none so blind as him who will not see.’ Likewise we say that ‘Greed is at the root of all evil,’ but we could also say that blindness is there as well. We have all met people who are blind to the crassness of their actions or statements. We have all met people who are blind to the consequences of the actions or blind to their bigotry or blind to their prejudices. Dare we admit it: our own eyesight might just be a little dim also!
5. We live in a world of blindness. There is the blindness of world leaders who press forward policies that are so short-term that we have whole regions that simmer with unrest. We have blindness that prevents us seeing how policies create injustice and stop development. We have the blindness that sees global warming yet refuses to take action in time.
Closer to our localities we have blind spots about what is really of value in society: we may prefer a motorway to our heritage or we may prefer our holidays to a just wage for workers. Greed finds blindness a steadfast ally.
Then in our lives we can find blindness to those around us, blindness to the community, blindness to the needs of those who need us. Blindness can be a great help in avoiding awkward questions of conscience.
6. Asked would we like to leave our blindness behind, to be- come aware of our prejudices, to have our blind spots treated, we all respond with an emphatic ‘yes’ — few of us willingly seek darkness, carelessness, destruction. But it is not as simple as opening our eyes: we need also the gift of new sight. This gift is the ‘enlightenment of faith’, it is the’grace of God’, it is the gift of the Spirit.
7. If we would see our lives, see those around us, and see our world, we must cry out: ‘Master, let me see.’ Then in the face of our need of forgiveness, we have to cry out: ‘Master, let me see again.’ Then knowing that we must grow in our discipleship, we cry out: ‘Master, let me see more.’ . We want the Lord’s gift of sight and enlightenment – this is our prayer every Sunday. We want to follow the Master along the road – we are a pilgrim people. But it is worth re– membering that when Mark said that Bartimaeus set out along the road following Jesus, that road led towards the cross.