Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - "Blind as bats"
Physical blindness is universally recognised as one of the worst forms of human affliction. But, spiritual blindness is even more devastating because, frequently, one so afflicted does not always know it. Today's readings deal with both kinds of blindness.

Jeremiah 31:7-9 -The years of captivity in Mesopotamia were the darkest hours for the Israelites; during this time they lost sight of their God as their salvation, and they were gripped by despair. Jeremiah seeks to encourage his people with his optimism that the time of dark despair will give way to the light of liberation and restoration.

Hebrews 5:1-6 - The unknown author of the Letter to the Hebrews knew the difficulties this small community of Jewish converts was experiencing and the doubts they were having concerning their conversion to Christianity. He wants to reassure them that in Christ they have the Supreme High Priest to mediate for them as Priest and Prophet.

Mark 10:46-52 - Mark continues to show Christ challenging the spiritual blindness of those who saw Him only as a miracle worker - a travelling showman. Christ takes the blind Bartimaeus and uses him as an example of one who saw beyond the physical miracle to recognise Christ as the True Messiah, one worthy to be heard and to follow.

Point 1: The well-known proverb, "Physician, heal yourself" reminds us of the insidious nature of spiritual blindness. Most of us readily recognise other people's faults; the over strict parents who, because of their rigidity, drive their children to rebellion and, finally, to leave the family home; or, the other side of the coin, where parents are so slack that the children are growing up without any sense of discipline. Then there are the husband and wife who needle each other constantly and end up destroying the fabric of their marriage. The man or woman with a serious drinking problem or substance addiction who are completely blind to what is happening to their lives. But whilst we are seeing all of this, it is worth asking "what are others seeing in us?" Is it possible that we fall into that category of people Christ had in mind when he spoke these words "[Luke 6:42] Or how can you say to your neighbour, 'Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour's eye".

Point 2: St. Mark, more so than the other gospel authors, concentrates on the "spiritual blindness" that afflicted so many of those who came to see and to hear Christ. The image of "wonder worker" attracted them more than the message to which the miracles were designed to draw attention . Seeing dead people restored to life, the lame leaping to their feet, the blind suddenly having their sight restored - all of this was good fun! Better than the circus! They were like people ordering a "cappucino" coffee and only spooning off the chocolate coated froth, leaving the substance untouched. The message of the "Suffering Servant" proclaiming the two fold commandment of love of God proven by the respect shown to others went over their heads. They were quite happy the way they were - blind to the deeper truths proclaimed by Christ.

Conclusion: It is possible for each of us to be affected by similar "spiritual blindness". Having been introduced to an early understanding of Christ's teaching, many are content to rest easy with that elementary understanding. There, although not completely blind, they remain. They resemble a person who is suffering from cataracts. Their vision is impaired; but, if unchecked, total blindness may result.

Today's readings speak to us of this spiritual blindness and an antidote for it - never lose hope in our Christian vocation. Continue to deepen our knowledge of the call that has been given to us. Even in their darkest hour, the Israelites rallied to Jeremiah's call; the early Christian Jewish community persevered as they deepened their understanding of Christ; and, in Bartimaeus, we see a model of Christian discipleship - a recognition of Christ's power to heal and to lead -" and he followed him along the road".

Scriptural reference: Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. [Mark 10:51- 52]