Monday, November 19, 2007

Those with sight are often blind.

November 19, 2007
Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63
Luke 18:35-43

This text from Luke is a familiar one. I have heard many sermons on how the Lord heals and gives us what we need. But this Gospel text has more going on than meets the eye. Pardon the pun.

Jesus is traveling to Jericho and as usual, his entourage is in force. As they are traveling, a blind beggar begins to call out to Jesus. Here is a man who has never witnessed one of Jesus' miracles but that doesn't matter. The blind beggar has heard the stories and he is now desperate to have Jesus' attention. That in and of itself is not what I believe the focus is. Rather, it is the response from Jesus' entourage. Here is a group of people, including the 12 Disciples, who should know better than to try and silence a poor, blind beggar. Don't you think they would have wanted this man to experience the power of Jesus? One would think. But that is not the case here. Jesus' followers are blind to this man's needs.

I can't help but think that we are in many ways like Jesus' entourage who wanted to keep this needy man away from Jesus. More often than not, it is the blessed who want to horde their blessings instead of sharing. Why is it that those with the most are often the most selfish? God's blessings are not a commodity that is to be squirreled away for a rainy day. The reality is that the gifts of the Spirit are to be freely given and then, and only then do they grow. God's blessings are not something we can put in a bank to draw interest. God's gifts of the Spirit must be used, given away in order for them to grow and return.

The folks who were traveling with Jesus should have known better and we may read this text and shake our heads. The problem with shaking our heads is that we might be too busy feeling superior and completely miss our own deficiencies. In what ways do we stand in the way of others being able to experience God's love? In what ways do we set up obstacles and place burdens on others who are seeking an encounter with the Lord? I am not saying we do it deliberately. I am just wondering how we often times get so entrenched with what we believe God should do that we forget that God is going to do what God wants and we have no say. God's love is for everyone and we cannot dictate to whom that Love will be given. I think the folk following Jesus to Jericho thought they were the "bouncers" who could determine who got to enter the party or not. Jesus showed them quickly that they had absolutely no power over who God shows love to.

In that respect I think it was the members of the entourage who were the blind ones. It was the one who was blind who could see God's love was present and begged to receive. Out of his neediness the blind beggar could see that God was present. The entourage gathered around Jesus were blinded by their sense of importance and almost missed a chance to see God's love in action. Worse, these folk could have deprived another of God's children from being healed. That is a frightening thought.