Gospel Reflection on 30th Sunday: 24th October 2021

Let me see again

Once again we hear Jesus ask the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Last week, we saw that James and John responded to that question by requesting positions of prestige. This week, a vulnerable Bartimaeus’ response is ‘Let me see again.’ We can perhaps identify with the pain he has experienced in having lost the ability to see and his pain of having forgotten the beauty of all that is around him.

We are all aware that there are different ways of seeing. To illustrate this Richard Rohr tells the following story:

Three Ways to View the Sunset

Three men stood by the ocean, looking at the same sunset. One man saw the immense physical beauty and enjoyed the event in itself. This man was the “sensate” type who, like 80 percent of the world, deals with what he can see, feel, touch, move, and fix. This was enough reality for him, for he had little interest in larger ideas, intuitions, or the grand scheme of things. He saw with his first eye, which was good.   

A second man saw the sunset. He enjoyed all the beauty that the first man did. Like all lovers of coherent thought, technology, and science, he also enjoyed his power to make sense of the universe and explain what he discovered. He thought about the cyclical rotations of planets and stars. Through imagination, intuition, and reason, he saw with his second eye, which was even better.

The third man saw the sunset, knowing and enjoying all that the first and the second men did. But in his ability to progress from seeing to explaining to “tasting,” he also remained in awe before an underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connected him with everything else. He used his third eye, which is the full goal of all seeing and all knowing. This was the best.

The mystical gaze builds upon the first two eyes — and yet goes further. It happens whenever, by some wondrous “coincidence,” our heart space, our mind space, and our body awareness are all simultaneously open and non-resistant. I like to call it presence. It is experienced as a moment of deep inner connection, and it always pulls you, intensely satisfied, into the naked and undefended now, which can involve both profound joy and profound sadness. At that point, you either want to write poetry, pray, or be utterly silent.

Extract from The Naked Now’ Richard Rohr

The more we can see our life experiences in the same way as the third man, then the deeper the pain we feel when circumstances cloud that vision. Then our prayer is also: ‘Lord, let me see again.’ When we lose sight of the wonder of who we are in God we are like the little 4 year-old girl who whispered to her baby brother: ‘Won’t you tell me what God is like. I’m starting to forget.’

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Gospel Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road.   When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.” And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have pity on me,” Jesus stopped and said. “Call him here.” So they called the blind man. “Courage,” they said “get up: he is calling you,” So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Rabbuni.” the blind man said to him, “Master, let me see again.”  Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has saved you.”  And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.