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SUNDAY HOMILY - The Happy Priest: Open Your Eyes
By Fr. James Farfaglia
October 28th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
This beautiful passage from the Gospel of Mark gives us an encouraging lesson of hope. Jesus passes by. He passes by every circumstance of our daily lives. It is only through the vision of faith that we come to recognize his daily presence in our lives.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Jesus is passing through Jericho and a large crowd surrounds him as he passes by on his way to Jerusalem. From the Gospel, we can assume that everyone can physically see Jesus except a blind man by the name of Bartimaeus. While he cannot physically see Jesus, a superior form of vision illumines his mind and heart. It is the light of faith that tells him that the Lord is passing by.
"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" The blind man cries out to Jesus. He is in need and his faith allows him to recognize that Jesus is the Lord, and that it is the Lord that can answer his need. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Many people try to stop Bartimaeus. However, the Lord Jesus is able to hear his cry for help, and turns to him with kindness and compassion. "And Jesus said to him, 'What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Master, let me receive my sight'. And Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your faith has made you well'. And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way" (Mark 10: 51-52).
This beautiful passage from the Gospel of Mark gives us an encouraging lesson of hope. Jesus passes by. He passes by every circumstance of our daily lives. It is only through the vision of faith that we come to recognize his daily presence in our lives. Pride, rationalism, indifference, laziness and discouragement will blind us. However, the light of faith will allow us to see Jesus as he makes himself present.
Faith will allow us to perceive his presence when we pray, when we read the Scriptures, and when we worship at the Eucharistic Banquet. Faith allows us to see him present in our brothers and sisters. Faith allows us to see him present in the ordinary circumstances of our lives, even in those moments that are difficult to handle. Jesus is passing by. It is this vision of faith that allows us not to miss his presence as he passes through each moment of our lives.
One Sunday morning as I welcomed a new young woman to the parish, I asked what she did for a living. She told me that she works with the blind. I smiled and I said that we both have a lot in common. Spiritual blindness is more obstructive than physical blindness. Is not this the situation of our contemporary world?
It is obvious and evident that life begins at the moment of conception, and yet in the face of scientific proof, many continue to promote abortion. If human life did not begin at the moment of conception, why would an abortion be necessary in the first place?
A blind humanity continues to advance destructive practices such as embryonic stem-cell research, homosexual marriages, euthanasia, and human cloning. Many refuse to see the consequences of godless behavior on human society. How much more destruction must take place before people begin to see the truth?
Those who think that they have all of the answers are no longer reachable. Pride is the root of spiritual blindness. Bartimaeus exemplifies the humility that is needed in order to see and to grasp the truth.
Unfortunately, our own country has become profoundly divided between polarizing forces. Moreover, for the first time in the history of our nation, religious liberty is being threatened.
Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, OMI said: "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square."
The only solution for the problems that we face as a Church and as a nation is to be humble, sincere and open. We are all born blind. Only through the faith we received at baptism do we truly see. Faith gives us a superior vision that allows us to see clearly.
Blessed Pope John Paul II once wrote: "It is urgent to rediscover and to set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, and a truth to be lived out. A word, in any event, is not truly received until it is put into practice. Faith is a decision involving one's whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the way, and the truth, and the life. It entails an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as he lived, in profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters" (Veritatis Splendor, 88).
Pope Benedict XVI has launched a Year of Faith. He is calling all of us to live the gift of faith that we have received with renewed commitment and a newness of how we live this gift within the daily circumstances of our lives.
We must nourish our faith with a daily encounter with the God of our faith through a serious spiritual life. We must feed our faith with the careful study of our faith through the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Only in this way can we effectively proclaim our faith within a culture that has become more and more aggressive against Christianity.
Darkness abides in the deep recesses of opinions and ideologies. We must move beyond the illusory images that only appear to be reality. We must have the openness to question and not accept blindly everything that is presented to us by modern culture. We must understand that relativism is bankrupt and that true freedom can only be found in objective truth.
When we are humble, open, and thirsty for the truth, Jesus will flood our souls with his Holy Spirit. The cobwebs of twisted thinking will vanish, light will shine through our entire being, our eyes will be open and we shall see.
There will always be obstacles. Just as in the case of Bartimaeus, people will attempt to stop us. There will even be many things that will hinder our relationship with the Lord. We must remove everything that hinders us so that we can freely walk with the Lord as he passes by. "And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus" (Mark 10: 50).
What are the things that are holding us back from a deeper relationship with the Lord? Once these attitudes, attachments and even sins are detected, what are we willing to do in order to change our lives? Through the vision of faith, Bartimaeus was able to see Jesus as he really is: the Lord, the Savior, the Master, the Redeemer, and the Messiah. It is through faith that he was able to encounter the Lord.
The initial encounter that Bartimaeus has with the Lord as he passes by, allows him to become a disciple. Because of his humility, his openness, and his persistence, Bartimaeus' first encounter with the Lord is so profound that it marks a definitive change in his life; he now begins to walk with the Lord. He has met the Lord, and his life is changed forever. "And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way" (Mark 10: 52).
What about our encounters with the Lord? Every contact with the Lord should better our lives and make us stronger disciples. Every moment with the Lord should renew us and give us the strength to journey on towards eternity. However, sometimes routine, distractions, and the tempo of our busy lives prevent us from really taking the time to encounter the Lord as he passes by. We become like the multitude that saw Jesus; only Bartimaeus was able to see him because he was a man of deep faith.
The example of Bartimaeus is a profound one. He persists in his cry for help. His sight is restored, and he becomes a loving disciple of the Lord Jesus. He becomes a loyal disciple. This is exactly what we must do. Persevere with loyal fidelity, always remembering that the Lord is always passing by.
Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.
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