A Long Loving Look

24 October 2021, 30th Sunday in the Ordinary Time

World Mission Sunday

Mk 10: 46-52

Look at.  Look within.  Look beyond.

First, let us look at the character of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus.  The name Timaeus means “fear”.  Hence, Bartimaeus can be translated as “son of fear”.  Being blind, he has all the reason to be afraid.  He lacks security.  Just sitting at the roadside, he never belongs to the community.  He is deprived. 

Second, let us look within.  We may not be blind.  But we can be blinded by missing life’s essentials.  On 26 August 2021, knowinsiders.com issued a list of most common phobias in the world.  In this time of COVID 19 pandemic the following phobias are included:  Mysophobia (top 7, fear of germs), Social phobia (top 3), Fear of death (top 2) and Fear of loneliness (top 1).  Because of these fears, many of us are struggling to see blessings, manifestations of kindness that are being unfolded, the needs of our country, the significance of trials and how grace is actively working in our personal and collective lives.

But if we are succumbed to such “spiritual” blindness, the Gospel also invites us to move to the third step, which is to look beyond.  How?  We can move beyond by listening, by believing and by following Jesus.

Listening.  As a college student-catechist, I was assigned, every Sunday, at Davao School for the Blind.  I notice that if one is vision impaired, the senses of hearing and touch are heightened.  My students would know me by my voice and when they touch me. In the Gospel, Bartimaeus started to know Jesus by hearing the news of His coming.  Since He could speak, the only way for him to be recognized by Jesus was to shout.  He did this.  Bartimaeus’ “shouting out loud” could be a menace.  He wanted not just to be heard but to be listened to.  Challenges and difficulties, issues and defects, vices and sins can make us blind.  But there is light at the end of a dark tunnel if only we can call on the Lord.  Christ is passing by.  Let us not miss His presence.  He listens both to what we are saying and to what we are not saying. 

Believing.  Notice that even if Bartimaeus is blind, he confessed his faith in Jesus be recognizing Him as “Jesus” (v. 47), as “Son of David” (vv. 47 and 48) and as “Master/My Teacher” (v. 51).  The name Jesus means “God saves”.  But it can also be a plea, “God, save us!”.  Jesus’ messiahship is not bossy.  Jesus serves by saving.  I know that many among us here are struggling with our faith.  Maybe because of infidelity, of human weakness, doing an act which is branded as immoral, and even failure in one’s commitment to marriage, to religious life and to priesthood, we feel like giving up.  But Bartimaeus is teaching us today that if we feel like a failure, Jesus can never fail. If we have no more cards to bet, Jesus can bet for you and for me.   Hangad’s Pag-ibig Ko serves as the Lord’s gentle voice telling us, “Hindi ka kailangang magbago, Kahit ito’y mas ibig Ko.  Hindi ka kailangang magsikap nang husto upang ika’y ibigin Ko.  Kailan magwawakas ang ‘yong pagtatago?  Ako’y naghihintay sa ‘yo Lumapit ka lamang, ang puso Ko’y hagkan Pag-ibig ko’y walang hanggan.  Iniibig kita; Manalig ka sana.  Ako’y kapiling mo; Kahit ikaw pa ma’y mapalayo.”  Loving leads us to believing.

Following.  Faith is not seeing to believe.  It is rather described as believing is seeing.  In being called by Jesus, Bartimaeus threw his cloak, jumped and approached the Lord.  For a long time that He was blind, Bartimaeus had only his cloak as his security in all seasons.  But the said cloak could also mean his attachments:  bad habits, being reactive, having lots of complaints.  In throwing aside his cloak, Bartimaeus opened himself to God’s saving grace.  Not only that!  Bartimaeus responded to Jesus’ invitation, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.”  Bartimaeus followed the Lord.  Believing leads to discipleship and mission.

We heard of many stories of men and women who, in encountering the Lord, were converted and are now part of the Church’s mission of making Jesus known and loved.  Saul, who later became Paul, was a persecutor.  Simon who became Peter was a fisherman who betrayed Christ.  Both of them are apostles. Dorothy Day had an abortion.  When converted she became the voice of the poor in America.  Thomas Merton is a Catholic but later became an atheist.  But his search for meaning led him back to the Church.  He became a Trappist monk and is known as a spiritual writer.  Ansel Beluso was a flamboyant gay who was popular in the Philippine entertainment world.  When he joined the Singles for Christ, he found his true identity.  He got married, had children and helped people who are experiencing Same Sex Attraction.  He died last August 6 due to COVID 19.  When one follows the Lord, one is not only meeting Him but he/she is also healed. 

Today is World Mission Sunday.  As Christians, we have the Gospel Story to share.  Ours is the 5th Gospel.  In looking at Bartimaeus, we admit that our blindness causes us to dwell in darkness.  But from there, we cry out, “Jesus!”  In looking within, we see that since fear is the opposite of faith, we implore God’s merciful love because loving leads to believing. In looking beyond, the Lord is sending us to proclaim these words, “The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy.” More than looking at, looking within and looking beyond, Jesus is having a long loving look at Bartimaeus, at you and at me. (Ps 126) Amen!

Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us here.

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