Lord, I want to see!

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Homily for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

As you can plainly see, I have corrected vision.   
I'm not blind but without my glasses, I don't see very well.
I wear tri-focals and I wear them all the time
so that I can see and see clearly.

But even with my glasses on,
I can make Bartimaeus’ prayer my own prayer:          
when he says,  “Lord, I want to see!” 

I can pray that because I know that my vision, in many ways,
needs more correction.
I can pray as Bartimaeus does because I know how often
my inner vision is blurry, unfocused -  
perhaps in some sense, inside, I'm legally blind.

I know that sometimes my heart’s peripheral vision is impaired:
I fail to see the whole picture, I miss the wider context,
I misunderstand and I judge – much too quickly.

Sometimes my soul is nearsighted:  I see only what serves me
and fail to see the needs of those beyond my reach.
Or maybe sometimes I’m farsighted,
caring for others at work,  at school,  in the parish, in the community,
while those closer to home long for my attention and affection.

And sometimes, as with sunglasses,  
my vision is shaded to the point that
what’s glaring right in my face is darkened, softened,
screened out, even blocked from my sight
leaving me to see just enough to get by
and blind to what I really don’t want to look at…

So, I can pray with Bartimaeus, “Lord, I want to see!” 

In the scriptures, the healing miracles of Jesus are called “signs”
because what happens on the physical level in a cure
is always a sign of a deeper reality.

What “sign” might Jesus work in you and me?
At what depth within myself, does my vision need correction?
What blindness in me needs to be healed?
What impairs my heart’s vision of the world around me?
   of the people around me?
How do I learn, how was I taught not to see
   what’s right in front of me?
How long does it take me to develop a “blind spot,”
   such that while I take in most things
   I consistently miss the one thing I need to see most clearly?

How has my vision been impaired 
     by looking too long, too directly,
     into the glare of all the screens in my life?
     (television screens, movie screens, computer screens, 
            smart phone screens?)
Like staring into the sun, 
such prolonged over-exposure might blind me,
might keep me from seeing beyond the virtual
   to what’s unmistakably real;
beyond the mass produced copy, 
   to the original and truly unique;
beyond the digital 
   to the beauty of the tangible.

How has my mind’s vision been impaired 
     by listening to and reading
only what I agree with,
only what fits my preconceived notions of truth,
only what’s approved by those whose opinions
have come to shape my own ideas and choices?

So, yes, I can pray with Bartimaeus:  "Lord, I want to see!" 

I want to see more clearly, Lord.
   I want to see what’s real and see honestly enough
   to distinguish what’s true from what’s false.

I want to see the whole picture 
   and not just the portion I already favor.

I want to see beyond my own needs, Lord,
   to see that the needs of others are almost always
   greater and more pressing than my own.

I want to see with my own eyes, Lord:
   - through the lens of a clear and informed mind
   - with the intense focus of a loving heart
   - and with the insight of a soul docile to your truth.

And if what I see seems too much to bear,
shade my vision, Lord,  but only with the  filter of faith, the gospel
and the wisest of the teachings of the ages. 

“Lord, I want to see!” 

That was a tough prayer for Bartimaeus to utter
while others in the crowd were rebuking him  and tell him to shut-up. 
And it might be a tough prayer for you and me, too.
When we see what’s true and speak of what we see,
we open ourselves to rebuke and rejection.

Sometimes, we ourselves don’t want to see or speak
of what we suspect, or intuit, 
or even know to be the truth.
Often it seems easier to live in a foggy blur
rather than honestly search for and find and speak the truth.

I wonder... 
with what eyes, what clarity of vision will you and I see
when we walk into a polling booth 9 days from now? 

Finding and seeing the truth
   will make us more compassionate people;
but only a dispassionate search for truth
    will ultimately lead us to discover what compassion truly demands. 

So we pray with Bartimaeus, “Lord, I want to see!

Sometimes, even often, 
what we see with eyes wide open is nothing
compared to what we see with our hearts, in faith.

On this altar we will offer bread and wine 
-- that’s what our eyes will see.
What the Lord will do with our gifts will be seen only
by hearts whose vision is blessed with faith.

For in the bread, blessed and broken, we’ll see his Body.
And in the wine, blessed and shared, we’ll see his Blood.

In opening our eyes to the sacrifice of the Cross,
our souls will see the mystery of his presence here at our table,
the mystery of the One who sees all
and to whom we all pray:  “Lord, we want to see!” 


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