Revelation 1:1-4; 2:1-5
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He replied, "Lord, please let me see." Luke 18:42
Blindness is a challenge both to the blind person and to the community in which he or she lives. I would venture to say that not too many of us have been around blind people for extensive periods of time. I haven’t. My experience with the blind is limited. There was a blind woman that I attended theology classes with several years back and we were all impressed with her insights into her experience of God. She had clarity of vision that enabled her to see God even in the dark places of this world. Her faithful husband was ever at her side and her Seeing Eye dog never left her by herself. She had a sense of humor that put you at ease right away. She was an inspiration.
The last time I met a blind person was in Vietnam, not too long ago. She was a young woman, maybe not even twenty years old. She was being tutored in English by one of our Passionist missionaries there. I sat with them for a short period of time as they struggled with her reluctance to speak, to learn new words and to review lessons learned in the previous weeks. Another blind person joined us, a young man, who was a good student. He also tried very hard to help her. When I spoke to the missionary afterwards, he shared that he didn’t have much hope for her. Unlike many of the disabled students he had tutored over the years, she had no inner drive to overcome her disability.
Today’s gospel is not just about a blind beggar living near Jericho at the time of Jesus. It is about us. It is about our own blindness. It is about us when we try to prevent those who are trying to approach Jesus to be cured of some incurable disorder. It is about perseverance and faith. It is about us and our desire to approach Jesus even when we find people making it difficult for us to approach him. The Evangelist Luke packs so much into this simple account that it will take us a lifetime to unpack and savor the many graces that are contained in Gospel passage.
When was the last time we prayed for sight? Maybe just because we can see with our eyes, we may have never taken the opportunity to ask for sight, especially for insight into our many limitations we carry within our person or we find deeply embedded in our family, our workplace or community. And having been granted our insight, how many of us have given glory to God and began following Jesus more closely? At the same time, have we ever considered the times when we have prevented someone from approaching Jesus when he or she was in pain? There are times when we just give up on people just because they don’t seem to be able to be cured.
The Gospel passage also invites us to explore our own blind spots, our own blindness. This is not an easy task. Like the young blind woman in Vietnam, we may not even be aware that blindness is not the fundamental reason why she is having trouble learning. She lacks confidence in herself. She is reluctant to depend upon others. She is afraid to bump into her surroundings because she is blind. I found myself identifying with her. I found myself thinking about the times I failed to risk because I may fail, to depend upon others because I would look weak, and to put my faith in God who gives sight to the blind.
May we deepen our faith so we can ask Jesus for the gift of sight!
Fr. Clemente Barron, C.P. is stationed in San Antonio, Texas.