You are sitting on a bench facing the road when a great crowd is passing by led by a man in worn sandals, tunic and a full beard but you do not see these because you are blind. You have heard of this man they call Jesus but you have not encountered him until right now. Immediately, without reservation or even a quaking voice, you cry out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” How can you, a blind beggar, call out to this man with confidence? You call out because you have such great faith that nothing will stop you from reaching this man they call Jesus.
This faith is the fire that spreads joy, hope, and love to all it touches. This faith is the faith that can move mountains and withstand the worst storms. This faith is the faith that restores vision to the blind man. How does this blind beggar possess such great faith? He is on the outskirts of society. He sits in the dirt and begs for money and food because he cannot provide for himself. He is helpless, he is ignored, he is trodden on and forgotten. To be on the receiving end of such indifference, to be forgotten and ignored so easily, I would imagine, would be crushing. I would be too weak. I would be too bitter. I would be too closed off to even notice Jesus walking by.
“Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings…” from our first reading. Perhaps the explanation for this beggar’s great faith is just that, he is without the worldly possessions that tempt, that drag us into sin, that distract us from Jesus. As a blind beggar, he has nothing to separate himself from the love of God, not even his eyesight.
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.”
This beggar is not distracted by money like those who ignore and reject him. He is not burdened by the weight of temptation or quandaries of what to do with money. He is the lowest of the low; the only direction to look is up. When this blind beggar looks up, he sees the glory of God walking past him in the form of Jesus Christ.
At first, we label blindness as debilitating, limiting, and as a handicap. People who are blind are less useful to society, they do not mean as much, they do not contribute enough, they cannot earn enough to support themselves. The blind are so limited.
However, what if the blind, the deaf, the handicapped, the intellectually disabled, the mentally challenged, the poor, the forgotten and the ignored are actually the ones who are better off than the rest of us? They are free from temptation incited by lust of beauty, they are free from the burden of arguing their beliefs and proving they are right, they are free from pride, free from stubbornness, and free from greed.
They are not distracted from the glory of God. They recognize Jesus quicker. They know Jesus as a friend. They hear his words more clearly. They have the freedom that so many of us are yearning toward but do not even know where to begin. We are the ones entrapped by greed, power, selfishness, efficiency, pride, gluttony, envy, sloth, lust, and especially anger. Anger because we believe we are living the best with our technology, our money, our access to resources, our abundance of stuff and yet we still cannot figure out what true happiness is or where to find it.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 2:2-5, 9-12 | Psalms 100: 2, 3, 4, 5 | Mark 10:46-52