From Father Steven - October 24, 2021
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
We learn from the Gospels that there are two meanings for “blindness”, one physical and the other spiritual. As we continue in the Respect-Life month, I would like to reflect on these two types of blindness in our society.
There are two stories that we hear in the Gospels about blindness. One of them we hear in this weekend’s passage. Jesus is in Jericho, and there is a blind man who asks Jesus to be healed. We know from Mark that his name was Bartimaeus. He was sitting on the side of the road, when he heard a large crowd approaching. When he heard that it was Jesus who was coming, he began screaming for help. At first the disciples, and those who were accompanying Jesus ignored him. Then as he continued to shout all the more, they rebuked him and told him to be quiet. Even though it is remarkable the insistence and the perseverance of Bartimaeus, it is also quite significant that the followers of Jesus would treat a person like that. Being an eyewitness of how Jesus stops to cure the sick, and help those in need, we would imagine that they would behave differently. Even more after Jesus tells them (in the same chapter) to not prevent others (children in the case) to come to him. This leads us to think if we treat those around us like Jesus or like those disciples. Very easily today people can be dismissed or pushed away because of their physical, financial, psychological condition even when they are asking for help. Even when there is no condition, people in need can be left unaided, such as the woman in the news last week who was attacked in the subway and no one helped her. A blind person above all, represents a great vulnerability due to the lack of sight. They are susceptible to so many things, that often they require great assistance. And the question for us to reflect is, do we offer help to those who are vulnerable and in need of our help? Being Pro-Life also includes helping those in need due to whatever physical limitation that one might have or not. The Church teaches (Catechism #2447) about the Corporal Works of Mercy, as a way in which “we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.” The Corporal works are: Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Clothe the Naked, Shelter the Homeless, Visit the Sick, Visit the Imprisoned, Bury the Dead.
Regarding the spiritual blindness, there are two elements that we will need to address, ours and other people’s. From the Gospel of John we hear the other blind man, one who was born blind and was asking for alms at the gate. Although this man could not see, the spiritual blindness will be referred to regards to the Pharisees who were questioning his cure. The Pharisees knew the Law and the Word of God very well, but unfortunately, they failed to “see” Jesus as the Messiah. They did not see the miracle as a sign from God, but rather a defiance to the law. On one hand, applying that to ourselves, we need to reflect if there are things of God that we fail to see as His intervention, or people that God sends our way that we don’t see them God-sent. On the other hand, we also need to reflect upon other people’s blindness to see God and his love toward us. The first two Spiritual Works of Mercy (Admonish the Sinner and Instruct the Ignorant) are directed towards them. We are also called to help people who have drifted away from church or from the right teachings. In the Era of Fake News and unlimited access to information, it is very easy to be deceived or swayed towards lies. We are called to be living witness of the Truth of the Gospel. There is a Latin saying “in vino veritas”, which translated means the “truth is in the wine” (under the influence of alcohol, a person tells the truth). But we know that Truth is in God and him alone. So another element about being Pro-Life, it is also to help lead people back to God. Even in this time that folks can be reluctant or uncomfortable coming into church or engaging a debate that is not about politics or Covid, we still need to help them. God sends us as his modern day prophets to announce people His love and mercy, how He does not judge or exclude no one, but He does desire the sinner to turn back and live. (Ez 18:23)
I’m sure that many of us have beautiful life stories, and different ways in which God has helped us in our lives. Let’s pray to God that He may allow us see all of them and to share them with others. By realizing how much God has loved us, we will be propelled to love those in need, and bring others to this love. There is a great new to evangelize out there, where people are hungry and thirsty for God. The word of the Psalmist reflects the need of every person, “like a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.” (Ps 42:1)
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Father Steven Clemence