SEEING WITH BLINDNESS
HOMILY – 30th SUNDAY [B] 2018 [Mark 10:46-52]
Fr Bill Clancy, a priest of our Archdiocese, has been retired in Whanganui for many years. I visited him last Wednesday for his 93rd birthday.
I was an altar boy when Fr Bill came to my hometown of Dannevirke as a young priest, not long out from Ireland. Like the aging parish priest he had come to assist, also from Ireland, he left home and family to give his life in service to the Church in New Zealand. He has been a priest for 66 years.
I remember marvelling at their generosity and courage. They both greatly influenced my decision to apply to prepare for priesthood.
The week before, I officiated at the Requiem Mass for another 93-year old Bill, Bill Maher. It is eight years since his wife, Patricia, died and they had been married for 62 years, parishioners among us, faithful witnesses in their devotion to the Eucharist and in their love for one another. Until just a few months ago, Bill was a regular at our weekday Mass. He told me he owed everything to his faith. It’s got me through some tough times! He was recalling not only the death of Patricia, but also the premature death of their son, Kevin.
Generosity and courage are standout qualities in these lives – and I’m sure you know people who display them. These qualities are directly related to today’s gospel and the central character, Bartimaeus. A blind beggar whom the people try to shut up and shut out! Jesus hears the commotion and calls him over. What does Bartimaeus do? He throws off his cloak, jumps up and goes to Jesus. His blindness doesn’t stop him because he hears and recognises the voice of Jesus and is drawn to it. He throws off his cloak – as a beggar it would be his most secure possession, his protection. He lets it go, to follow Jesus.
Much more than the apostles did (last Sunday) – they wanted to hold on to power and prestige, and wanted to follow Jesus without giving up anything.
My 93-year old friends learned early in their lives that they couldn’t hope to see everything ahead of them. They were comfortable with their blindness, seeing with the eyes of faith, responding to the inner voice they knew to be Jesus, trusting the way he would lead them. Generosity and courage.
The blind man asked Jesus: Master, let me see again. That tells us he was once able to see. How many among your family and friends have let faith slip away from them; or allowed some tragedy or setback blind them from the trust they once had in the company of Jesus? Pray for them today; don’t shut them out. Very likely they would love to see again.
And pray for yourselves and each other – for the generosity and courage to throw off your cloak, or whatever it is that would limit your trust, or your ability to follow Jesus, all the way.
Pray, with today’s Psalm, that we might all be filled with joy, knowing what great things the Lord has done for us!