How many of us do not ever have a ‘bad’ day or even a bad week? Then every one of us has had to journey through difficult periods in our personal lives, marriage, priesthood and various commitments? In addition, many will remember long months of grieving for a lifelong companion, profound isolation, prolonged periods of illness or recuperation?

We have felt as if we were

exiles in our homes, families, communities and parishes … not to mention the Church Itself! Most Christian disciples have experienced a “sowing in tears.” However, the faithful disciple has also experienced that “they come back with song.” {see TODAY’S PSALM – 126 or 125}. The same Psalm reminds us that at some stage of the ‘bad’ period we began to realise that although we “(went) out, full of tears” we were presented with the opportunity of “sowing seed”. Once we began planting, we were able to “come back with a song, bearing our sheaves.” It was Ernest Hemingway who, quite rightly, said that “the lives of all are broken but some grow in the broken places.” When this happens, we understand further words from our Psalm:“what great deeds the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.”

Even when we are not conscious of the fact

, the NEW TESTAMENT READING [HEBREWS 5: 1 – 6] provides us with the anchor of faith in the dark days. We are told that “he can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward since he himself is beset with weakness.” Indeed he acts“on behalf of men in relation to God.” However, we have to allow him to act on our behalf – invite him inside our darkness, give him room to manoeuvre, and WANT HIM TO DO SO. It is only when we stop trying to ‘do’ it on our own, realising that we will never cope in splendid isolation, that the Lord is able to work for us.

How many of us are unable to stand up and witness to the truth of these facts?!

THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 10: 46 – 52] records Jesus in action as far as dealing gently with the man is concerned. The Lord is able to understand that Bartimaeus is, indeed, beset with weakness and, as a result, acted on behalf of the man in relation to God. The blind man was persistent in seeking Jesus’ help – “he cried out all the more.” Our appeal to the Lord must not be some passing act of desperation but, like Bartimaeus, a resolute reaching out “when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth.”

This particular incident is also recorded by Saint Luke

{18: 35 – 43} and there are incidental differences. However, both evangelists record the fact that once the man’s sight was restored he “followed him on the way.” However, only Mark names the blind manBartimaeus, a blind beggar.”

This naming is all-important. We are no longer faced with any blind man but come face to face with

BARTIMAEUS, a living human person who feels his exile from the day-to-day life of the community. He knows what he needs and asks for it – reaches out to Jesus. Now we recall words from our OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [JEREMIAH 31: 7 – 9]. “The Lord has saved his people … bring them back … gather them … the blind and the lame … I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.”

In our own dark days we have to

NAME ourselves and NAME the Lord. Do not forget that Bartimaeus “heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth.” We now have two people face-to-face. We must not hide ourselves in anonymity – and the Lord never acts from behind the scenes. Jeremiah tells us that “I will lead them back. I will make them walk.”

It is true to say that in our dark days it did not feel as if we were walking by brooks of water, on a straight path: far from it! In fact, we were stumbling. However, both evangelists record the fact that once the man’s sight was restored he

“followed him on the way.”

After we have reached out, person-to-person, our sight is restored and, once again, we are following him on the way.

 

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