Homily for October 28

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Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


As you can plainly see, I have corrected vision.   
I can, of course, see without my glasses -
but without them I don't see very well:
I don’t see very clearly and what I do see is out of focus.
In fact, I wear tri-focals and I wear them all the time:
one third of my lens helps me see you and things at a distance,
another third helps me read a computer screen or newspaper;
and another third helps me read a book sitting on the altar
or my homily here at the ambo.

But even with my glasses on,
I can still make the prayer of Bartimaeus my own:  
 Lord, I want to see!” 

I can pray as Bartimaeus prayed
because I know that my vision,
in many important ways,
needs even more correction than my glasses offer me.
I can pray as Bartimaeus did because I know how often
my inner vision is unclear, blurry, out of focus.
You might say that sometimes my inner vision                                                                                                    
borders on being not “legally” but spiritually blind.

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

• And sometimes my soul is nearsighted:
I see only what serves me
and fail to see the needs of those
outside my immediate circle, beyond my arm’s reach.

• And at other times I’m spiritually farsighted,
caring for others through charity
in places of need around the world,
while those closer to home:
those who work beside me at my job, 
those who sit next to me at school or who live next door
might long for my attention, my help and  my affection -
but I don’t see them.

• And then there are times
when my vision is shaded, colored,
as if I were wearing sunglasses on my soul:
my vision filtered to the point
that what’s glaring me right in the face
is darkened, softened, screened,
even blocked from my sight
leaving me to see just enough to get by with
but blind to what I really don’t want to look at.   

And these examples don’t include those times
when I simply turn away,
physically or emotionally or spiritually,
turn away and refuse to see
what’s right before my very eyes.

So, yes, indeed:  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 intended as  a sign of a deeper reality.

• What “sign” might Jesus want or need to work
in you and me with regards to how we “see?”

• 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 did I learn, how was I taught to avoid seeing
some things that are right in front of me?

• How many “blind spots” impair my spiritual vision?
What blind spots keep me from seeing
what I might need to see more clearly? 
to see most clearly?

• How has my spiritual 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 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 need to pray, perhaps you need to pray,
perhaps we all need to pray with Bartimaeus:
"Lord, I want to see!" 

• I want to see more clearly, Lord.
I want to see clearly and 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 so often
greater and more pressing than my own.

• I want to see with my own eyes, Lord.

• I want to see through the lens
of a clear and informed mind.

• I want to see with the intense focus of a loving heart.

• And I want to see with the insight of a soul
docile to your truth.
“Lord, I want to see!” 

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

• How clear will be our vision of candidates
and of the three referendum issues to be decided?

• What screens and filters have we allowed and invited
to color what we see and thus what we think and believe?

• What truths have we seen and accepted
that influence our choices?

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

And so we pray with Bartimaeus:
“Lord, I want to see.”

In a few moments
we will offer bread and wine on this altar
and, with or without glasses -
that’s what our eyes will see: bread and wine.

But what the Lord will do
with our gifts of bread and wine
will be seen only by hearts whose vision
is corrected and focused by faith.

For in the bread, blessed and broken,
we will see, with eyes of faith,
his Body offered for us
and in the wine, blessed and shared,
we will see, with eyes of faith,
his Blood poured out for us.

We open our eyes to Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross
to help our hearts find and see
the mystery of his presence here at our table,
to find and to see the mystery
of the One who sees everything in our hearts
and to whom each of us prays:
“Lord, I want to see!” 


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