30 May 2013

Healing becomes discipleship

8th Week OT (Th) 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
St. Dominic Church, NOLA 

Bartimaeus' blindness is healed, so naturally we assume that this gospel story is about a miraculous cure. In fact, Bartimaeus' healing is a story about discipleship, a story about being healed so that discipleship is possible. We know this b/c the Greek tells us much more than our English translation can. Mark tells us that Bartimaeus is sitting by the “roadside begging.” The Greek work for “roadside” is hodon. Once his blindness is healed, Mark tells us that Bartimaeus follows Jesus “on the way.” The Greek here is hodo. In other words, Bartimaeus, blind and pitiful, is sitting along side the way begging. Jesus comes along the way, heals Bartimaeus' blindness, and now he, once blind, follows Jesus on the Way, both enlightened and sighted. Other than the miraculous cure, what changes btw Bartimaeus begging beside the way and Bartimaeus following along behind Jesus on the way? Our Lord asks the blind man, “What can I do for you?” He answers, “Master, I want to see.” In his compassion, Jesus says, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” What “way” does Bartimaeus choose? He chooses the Way of Christ. 

After healing Bartimaeus, Jesus tells the once blind man to “go your way.” His eyes are open now. He can “see” the truth. He can choose his own way and live life w/o begging. With all the options available to him, he chooses Christ as his way, the truth, and the life, giving his own life to the ministry of Christ by following him. So, yes, this is a story with a miraculous healing, but it is fundamentally a story about how a blind man comes to see by faith and answers the call to discipleship as a student of Christ. Like Bartimaeus, we are all called to discipleship. Every one of us hears a call to be a student learning at the feet of a Master. The question is: who do we choose as our teacher? The options are legion. We can be students of our rapidly collapsing Enlightenment culture; students of material science and the nihilism it imposes; students of our disordered passions and instincts; students of the created world, giving ourselves over to made-things rather than their Maker. We will learn from a Master, someone or something will teach us. The only question is: who will we choose to learn from? And make no mistake, we choose our teachers. We choose to submit ourselves to the lessons we learn. Bartimaeus chooses Christ with good reason. Why have you chosen Christ? What are your good reasons? 

We don't have to think too hard to understand why Bartimaeus chooses Christ as his teacher. Jesus tells his disciples to call the blind man over to him. They say to Bartimaeus, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” But how did Jesus even notice the poor beggar in the first place? Over the racket of the crowd, Jesus hears the man calling him repeatedly, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus for compassion. Jesus calls Bartimaeus to discipleship by healing his blindness. That's a good reason to make Christ your way, your truth, and your life. What's your good reason? Why do we need a good reason to follow Christ? What's wrong with saying, “It's my choice! I don't need a reason”? For someone, you and I will become a teacher. You and I will be chosen as someone to follow. If we follow Christ, then we will naturally lead to Christ those who look to us for instruction. If we're to point to Christ as the Master, and not ourselves as some sort of guru, then we need a reason to be walking his Way. If we are no longer blind to the truth, who healed us and how? Make yourselves ready to give reasons for your faith. “As the rising sun is clear to all, so the glory of the Lord fills all his works. . .” You are among His most beautiful works. How will you reveal His glory if asked for the reason why? 
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3 comments:

  1. Overall, I appreciated the homily and especially the message contained therein. Why do I follow Christ? The reason will completely inform the Way that I follow Him. . . and shine out, or not, to those who would look to me for example.

    But, because of my modernist and patriarchal tendencies :-), I heard a few places where there was a minor lack of "logical" connection . . . Just enough to throw me off as my brain searched for the perceived need of a connection. Almost as if you were just missing a few words here and there, which were needed to complete the thought.

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  2. Nothing to say about the homily other than the beat up V-word, but just out of curiosity, is Corpus Christi a solemnity/holy day of obligation in the US or is it transferred to the following Sunday?

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    1. Beat up V-word??? Corpus Christi is transferred to Sunday in most of the US. Don't want to inconvenience our bourgeois Cathollics!

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