My teacher let me see again. This tells us that Bartimaeus could see at one time in his life. Whatever happened, gradually or suddenly Bartmaeus lost the gift of sight. He had to adapt his life to his new reality of darkness. Not being able to see, he couldn’t work. Not being able to work he was forced to beg to support his family. It must have been a humiliating experience to be so reduced.
We have no idea what he knew of Jesus but he must have known something of his reputation. Here was his chance to meet him and beg not for coins but for his sight. So he yelled louder and louder over the din of the crowd “Jesus son of David have mercy on me.” Bartimaeus, the beggar, would be heard. Feeling his way through the crowd he comes to Jesus and in desperation begs as he’s never begged before ‘let me see again’. Immediately his sight was restored and as the last words of today’s gospel tell us, ‘he followed Jesus on the way.’ He became a follower of Jesus.
Let me see again. The ability to see isn’t limited to seeing a blue sky or enjoying a starry, starry night. Seeing is also a matter of seeing the truth about things or the falseness of things. Seeing can mean we are blessed with an insight, the ability to see more deeply what really is of importance and value in our lives. It is one thing to see the one we love; it is another thing to see what causes us to love that person, their warmth, their tenderness, their generosity, their faithfulness, their humour.
We all say we believe in Jesus. That’s why we’re here. We believe he became one with us in our humanity, we believe Jesus is the love of God made visible and we listen to what he taught and witness his compassion for those in need. We believe he loved each one of us so much he gave his life for each of us, dying a painful and humiliating death on the cross. We believe the Father raised Jesus from the dead and we too have been raised in him to live a new life for God.
Is it possible these statements of our faith have become ‘old hat’? We just mouth them off without appreciating the truth and the wonder of the words we say? Do we take our faith in Jesus for granted? Can we say we have a personal relationship with the Christ we receive at communion, a relationship he deepens with us in times of personal prayer and quiet? In those quiet times do we talk with Jesus as we would talk with a trusted friend? Do we thank him for what he has done for us, do we tell him of the happy things in our lives or do we just tell him of the things that keep us awake at night? Do we take our faith in Jesus for granted? These are important questions for all of us.
As you know the Pope has declared this year to be a year of faith, a faith we hope to strengthen through a new evangelization. The new evangelization calls each of us to deepen our own Catholic faith, believe in the Gospel message of God’s love for each one of us and then go out and share our convictions with those who have given up on their belief in God or church.
Could we not spend this year of faith by making our prayer the prayer of Bartimaeus, ‘Lord let me see again’? Give me the grace to see the wonder of Christ’s word, ‘you did not choose me, no I chose you.’ Our faith in Jesus Christ is a gift, a gift that came to most of us through having been born into a Catholic family, a gift strengthened by the faith example of our Catholic parents. Is it a gift we have come to ignore, a gift we wear like an old comfortable slipper? Or is our gift of faith in Jesus Christ something we treasure? Do we want to deepen our personal relationship with Christ through this Mass we celebrate together?
We live out our relationship with Christ in the family of the Church. There are times when we can have troubles with this family, personality clashes, disagreements over church policies, disappointments with it failures. But this is our family of faith. It is in and through this family we come to Christ as we are nourished by the Eucharist and healed by its sacraments.
As enter this Year of Faith, as we continue this Eucharist we make our own the plea of Bartimaeus, ‘Lord let me see again” let me see in a new and deeper way your relationship, your love for me. In the light of this new sight let me follow you more faithfully along the way.