Jesus said to [Bartimaeus] in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus said to him “Go; your faith has saved you.” And at once his sight returned and he followed him along the road.” Mark 10:51
This week’s Gospel is one of many illustrations of Jesus’ power to heal. These miracle stories usually share some common elements. The person approaches Jesus with firm conviction that Jesus can fix whatever it is that ails him or her. Jesus then performs this service, healing not only the body but also the soul. Lastly, Jesus comments on the person’s faith. It is the faith that saves the person. The person believes.
I am reminded of Jesus’ words to Thomas in the Gospel of John “You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29) Obviously, those of us who practice our Christian faith 2000 years after Jesus walked the Earth fall into the second category, but believing without physical proof is not always easy. I’ve heard it said that faith is a gift given from God. That may be true. Perhaps some are given a greater capacity for faith than others. I think that all are capable of some measure of faith, however. God would not have created a person and made him or her incapable of believing in God. That doesn’t make sense, especially in light of the fact that our main purpose for being is to know, love, and serve God. Therefore, it has to be possible to intellectually choose to have faith, to believe even when one doesn’t have the feeling of belief. St. Therese did this in her last days. She doubted there was a heaven. Yet, she still chose to believe. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta did this as well. She had no consolation from prayer, yet she continued to pray and continued to believe in her mission from Christ.
I have heard so many takes on this Gospel, all of which are accurate. We all have blindness in our lives that needs to be removed. We are blind to the beauty of the world around us. We go through life with blinders on – looking, but not really appreciating the magnificent creation around us. We are blind to the needs of others. We focus on our own needs and wants and somehow miss how we can help those who share our lives who are in pain. We are blind to our own faults. We choose to overlook the shortcomings in ourselves, but are quick to point out the failings in others. Oh yes, we are all blind in some way. We need our Lord to take this blindness away.
Sometimes, however, I think that our greatest blindness is our failure to see God in our everyday lives. A spiritual director that I once had used to ask me “Where was God for you today?” It is such an important question, and one that we often overlook. We get so busy in the minutia of life, in the chores and the work and the responsibility, that we fail to notice God amidst the rhythm of daily life. Then, when the world comes crashing down around us, we wonder “Where is God?” God is there all the time, in both the good and the bad, but we need to open our eyes and quiet our hearts to see. We need to choose to believe even when we don’t feel like it.
Dear Lord, please help me in my blindness. Help me to see you in each and every day, and to acknowledge your presence in my life. Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief.