30th Sunday:Living in His Light
Betty and Ben , an elderly husband and wife, were sitting in the living room watching TV when Betty decided a snack was in order. She said to Ben, “I’d love to have a bowl of ice cream right now.” Ben said, “I’ll get it for you.” Now Betty, knowing that Ben was becoming more and more forgetful, said to him, “Why don’t you write down that I’d like two scoops of vanilla ice cream?” “I don’t need to write it down,” Ben protested. As he was leaving the room, Betty called out, “How about putting some chocolate syrup on that ice cream?” “Sounds good,” said Ben. “Write it down,” said Betty. “I don’t need to write it down,” said Ben. “OK,” said Betty. “Do you think you can put a couple of cherries on the ice cream too?” “You want cherries, you get cherries,” said Ben. “Maybe you should write this all down, Ben.” “I don’t need to write it down, Betty.”
So Ben went into the kitchen. And was in there for a half hour. Finally, he came in with a tray of food, and put a plate of bacon and eggs in front of Betty. “I told you, you should write it down,” said Betty. “You forgot the toast.”
Now, as I get older, this seems to define a lot of my day. I won’t ask you if you have had similar experiences. By the way, I have heard it said, that you don’t have to get old to be so forgetful. Having children in the house will do it to you too.
Anyway, the older I get, the more I realize how little I know about things. I can’t understand this. I knew so much when I was in my 20's & 30's. I knew everything about everything. Where did all that knowledge go? Then, people would come to me, and I had instant solutions to their problems. Now, I am not sure I can comprehend their difficulties, let alone offer solutions. Perhaps, the wisdom of age is realizing how little you know, and how much you are dependent on God to step into his view of the world.
One area where I am completely at a loss, is the experience of those people, some here in our parish, who are blind. I cannot fathom what it is like to be totally dependent on others or a seeing eye dog or technology for sight. I think that it is wonderful that technology has opened so many doors for the blind. Perhaps I will live to see a device similar to the auricular implant for the deaf to give sight to the blind. But I do not know what it is like to be blind, to be dependent on others to lead me.
Bartimaeus was dependent on others for sight. But he could hear well. He heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, so he called out to him. He was healed. And then, Bartimaeus did something a blind person cannot do. He followed Jesus, not just figuratively, but literally. Bartimaeus walked behind Jesus along with the other disciples of the Lord.
The first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah tells us that a day will come when the lame will walk and the blind will see. And certainly, that day began with Jesus Christ. Certainly, this is one of the teaching in today’s Gospel. Bartimaeus sees. The great days that Jeremiah had prophesied had begun. But, perhaps this Gospel reading is deeper than a demonstration of the powers of the Messiah to give sight to the blind. Perhaps, it is speaking about seeing with the eyes of faith.
Bartimaeus followed Jesus. The blind cannot follow someone. Can you imagine the joy that Bartimaeus must have had to be able to follow someone on his own, without being led? But the reading has a deeper level. Those whose souls are blind to the Presence of God cannot follow him. Only those who are willing to take a step of faith, a leap of faith, and seek out the Lord can follow Him. At the conclusion of the long reflection on the healing of the Man Born Blind in the ninth chapter of John, Jesus says, “I came so that those who are blind may see.” So, can you imagine the joy of those whose lives seemed to have no direction, who lived in darkness, when they find a path to life, a light to guide them? Wait a minute. We are those people. We are the ones who had been in darkness and who now have light.
“I need direction in life,” the lady complained to me. “I need direction in life,” I’ve complained to others. Perhaps, you have felt the same way. Why do we do that? Why do we look for direction, when all that we need is right in front of us? We have been entrusted with a treasure, the very presence of the Lord. When I feel that I am lost, when we feel we are lost, then, I and we, need to get back to basics. We need to follow Jesus to find the path to life the psalmist cries for in Psalm 16.
We need to reflect on the profound joy the Lord has brought to all of our lives. He has given us sight. We can see where we need to go. We can follow Him. We can go to that place where all happiness dwells. Our joy is realizing that like Bartimaeus we are not blind any more. We can follow the One who gives Light to our lives.
May we have the courage to live in His Light.