In our Gospel, Jesus restores the sight of the blind beggarBartimaeus. The history of all times and places is replete with examplesof blind people who have lived full, rewarding lives. Spiritual blindness, onthe other hand, is always an unmitigated disaster. It is clear that Jesusalso cures Bartimaeus of this, more injurious, form of blindness, for thefirst thing Bartimaeus does when his sight is restored is to see Jesus, andfollow him up the road. There can be no greater evidence of clarity ofspiritual vision. We too, if our spiritual vision is clear, can want no morethan to see our Savior, and follow him.
Even those of us who are blessed with physical sight, often need towear glasses to correct and enhance our vision. The same is true of ourspiritual vision. Alas, spiritual spectacles are not covered by mostinsurance plans. Fortunately our Savior, as Bartimaeus learned to his joy,is eager to serve as our spiritual optometrist. Like Bartimaeus, we needonly express our need to Jesus, and he will give us the spiritual vision ofeagles. Our need is not so much for sight, but for insight. God’s gracegives us the insight to see our Lord all around us, loving us, supportingus, and urging us on. We remember Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel:The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole bodywill be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be indarkness. And if the light in you is in darkness, how great will thedarkness be.” Christ is our light, “the light of the world, and whoeverfollows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Withour sight restored we can obey Jesus’ command to let our light shinebefore others, “that they may see your good deeds and glorify yourheavenly Father.”
Jesus even describes how the treatment works: “Why do younotice the splinter in another’s eye, but do not perceive the woodenbeam in your own eye? How can you say to another, ‘Let me remove thesplinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? Youhypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will seeclearly to remove the splinter from another’s eye.” When, by God’sgrace, the lumber has been removed from our eyes, we begin to see theLord everywhere: in God’s creation, in works of human genius, andespecially in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, andthe imprisoned. It takes some practice to see with our new eyes. And if,for the moment, we are blind to Christ’s presence, we must allowourselves to be led by those who can see more clearly. Another timethey may rely on us for guidance. That is one of the reasons that wegather together in worship. Another reason, of course is to see our Lordin the bread and wine we offer in the Eucharist. It is an ideal opportunityto ask our God for eyes with which to truly see.
Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., is co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland. He writes and records a regular blog called “Fractio Verbi.”