Jer 31. 7-9; Ps 126; Hb 5. 1-6; Mk 10. 46-52
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Today’s gospel selection reminds us that Mark’s gospel remembers Jesus healed two blind men with different effects. The first blind man, unnamed, Jesus healed gradually. Mark recalled it this way:
Putting spittle on his eyes [Jesus] laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?” Looking up he replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then [Jesus] laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. Then [Jesus] sent him home./1/In today’s gospel Jesus healed Bartimaeus instantly:
Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him..., “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed [Jesus] on the way.Details confuse people about Mark’s lesson then and now. Some people are stymied by Jesus gradual healing of the first blind man. Others miss that Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak. Still others forget that Jesus’ many discouraged Bartimaeus, which surely is evidence enough that the they were slow to get Jesus’ mission.
Both men and Jesus’ response to them are icons for us today. The blindness of the first man was from no faith to faith. Jesus sent him home, that is, to protect and cultivate his faith until he was ready.
Faith, in visual language, allowed him to see everything distinctly, which even the disciples could not do! Yet, new faith needs protection, and it needs to grow strong.
Bartimaeus had strong faith: no one could quiet it in him. Jesus saw his faith and he recognized a new disciple, as we heard: “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately [Bartimaeus] received his sight and followed [Jesus] on the way.
We share significant features with Bartimaeus. Let me name three. We are named and our names have been sealed by baptism. Second, our baptism consecrated us on mission with Jesus: we follow Jesus on his way. Three, our baptism gave us faith, and the eucharist sustains the faith our baptisms began.
Our faith, we know from experience, gets shrouded, and at times, we even allow it to be invisible. More often, whatever cloaks our faith doesn’t allow others to recognize our true features as Jesus’ contemporary disciples. Baptized into faith and faith sustained by the eucharist, we all have our cloaks, to which we cling or which cling to us. We recognize Jesus heals us—that is, empowers us to live the pattern of his life—when we throw aside our cloaks and live with faith’s freedom to replicate the pattern of Jesus’ dying and rising day to day.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, ask the Trinity to enlighten you and bless your vision. Ask Bartimaeus to present you to Jesus. In your words thank Jesus for your faith, then ask Jesus to help you identify your cloak and give you strength to throw it aside for the freedom of faith to imitate the pattern of Jesus’ dying and rising. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is both example and power: Jesus’ example of living freely and faithfully, and his power in us to do the same and to follow him on his way.
1. Mark 8.23-26.
Wiki-mage of Jesus healing the blind is in the public domain.