30th Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Whether we realize it or not, every moment of every day, we are choosing a teacher to learn from. Whether we like it or not, every moment of everyday, we are being taught how to think, feel, behave, and live. We will sometimes resist the lessons we are given, and sometimes we will take those lessons in and make them our own, believing that we are choosing what's best from the available options. As we grow older, these lessons accumulate, and we sort through them, tossing some away, giving others more power to influence, and just generally settling into what we might call “our wisdom.” What's missing from this picture is the process of how we choose which lessons to believe and which ones to ignore. If I choose to listen to This Celebrity rather than That One, or That Politician rather than This One, how do I go about the choosing? What criteria do I use to decide? This question becomes all the more urgent when I add in another problem: what if, like Bartimaeus, I am blind? What if I cannot see my choices for what they really are, and find myself choosing my teachers based on dangerous criteria? Before you choose a teacher – every moment of every day – make sure that your blindness is healed.
Think for a moment about the teachers you've chosen. There are the formal teachers – primary, secondary, university teachers. Informal mentors – friends, neighbors, even the occasional stranger. Public teachers – politicians, media personalities, intellectuals, celebrities, writers. Private teachers – people you've chosen as personal examples to follow – saints, popes, clergy, holy lay people. Now, think about why you chose these teachers. Think about what they have in common, what they are teaching you about how to think, feel, behave; how to live day-to-day. Can you see why they are influential in your life? Why you sit at their feet and allow them to shape your life? Maybe they teach you what you believe you need to know to thrive in this world. Perhaps they teach you lessons that make you feel powerful, included, or special. Maybe they teach you what you want to hear. Or maybe your chosen teachers teach you comfortable lessons that never threaten your self-image, never demand anything from you, or push you to grow beyond yourself and your immediate desires. When it comes to choosing who you will follow every moment of every day are you like Bartimaeus, blind and begging? Before you choose, make sure you are saved.
Bartimaeus is saved, physically and spiritually. Jesus fixes his eyes so that he can see. Jesus also fixes Bartimaeus' heart and mind so that he can choose his teacher. It all happens so fast we might've missed it. Jesus does nothing more than declare, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Notice: Jesus tells him to choose. Choose your way. Choose your path. Notice again: Jesus says that Bartimaeus' faith has saved him. Not “your faith has healed you.” But that his faith has saved him. That he is also healed is a bonus. Now that Bartimaeus is saved from his physical and spiritual blindness, he must choose where he will go, whom he will follow. What's his decision? Mark tells us, “Immediately he received his sight and followed [Jesus] on the way.” Bartimaeus chooses Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. From begging blind “along the way” to following Christ, who is The Way, Bartimaeus submits himself to the teacher – the only teacher – who can bring him both sight and insight, both healing and salvation. Every moment of every day, are you choosing to be healed by the only teacher who can bring you to salvation?
If I were to ask you to sit down and draw up a list of all those you listen to every day, could you do it? Could you name all of the teachers who exert influence on you? To the parents here: could you list all of the teachers who influence your children? Not just the school teachers but all of those who have a hand in shaping your child's heart and mind? Do you know what lessons your kids are learning? Do you know how your children are choosing these informal teachers? If not, it might be time to ask Christ to heal your blindness. In fact, it is always time to ask Christ to heal our blindness. We cannot follow Christ if we can't see him. We cannot be Christs for others in this world we don't know his Way. As followers of Christ, he must be our first teacher, our chosen path, our Way and our Truth. Every moment of every day we choose whom we will allow into our hearts and minds to shape who we are. For healing, for salvation, choose Christ!
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