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Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time B: October 24, 2021

Mark 10: 46-52

By Rev. John Tran

In 2010, two psychologist wrote a book named The Invisible Gorilla. The psychologists had conducted an experiment. They asked a group of people to count the number of passes made by one team in a basketball game they were watching. While they were counting, a girl in a gorilla suit wove her way among the players, sometimes even standing in front them. When the play stopped, the participants were asked two questions: 1. How many passes did you see? and 2. Did you see the gorilla? Almost everyone got exactly right the number of passes, but few people notice the gorilla. They concluded that no one sees everything that passes before their eyes.

Notice the difference between the way James and John respond when Jesus asked them what he could do for them, and how the blind man in today’s gospel respond to the same question. James and John, you will remember, arrogantly asked whether the could sit at Jesus right and left hands when he came into his kingdom. They wanted to know what was in it for them, even though they had been with Jesus some time and seen him do marvelous things. Bartimaeus, the blind man, asks instead that he may see. Which is the perfect disciple?

James and John, at that point in their understanding do not ask for what a perfect disciple would. The blind Bartimaeus asked for the only thing any true Christian should ask for: “Lord, that I may see.”

Sometimes we, just like James and John, do not see what is in front of us. They did not take in the real meaning of Jesus’ daily life and teaching. They saw only glory in the Transfiguration, the raising of the synagogue leaders daughter from the dead, or the indignation that the Samaritans would not welcome Jesus. Jesus told them that they would drink from his cup, but he could not give the seats in his kingdom.

The blind man ask for what was really important. Not only that his sight would be restored, but also that his very faith in Jesus had made this healing possible. In a sense Jesus was saying to Bartimaeus: ‘I don’t need to give you your sight because your faith has already done so. Faith in me enables you to see what I see.’ The gospel concludes that Bartimaeus followed Jesus on his way -- a way that leads to the cross as well as resurrection.

How do I measure up in my discipleship? Do I see what Jesus sees? Do I see the chances to lead others to faith? Do I look for my own glory, as James and John, or do I see the opportunities that Jesus puts right in front of me? The good thing is that I can always begin again. I can always begin to see if I only ask for that ability. After all, the wonderful discipleship of the blind man passes into obscurity; we never hear from him again. But James and John are other matters. They did come to see; and they did willingly drink from Jesus’ cup. James and John along with Bartimaeus, took up the cross that lead others to faith in Jesus and to resurrection. Today, we pray with Bartimaeus: “ Lord, that I may see.” And not only “I”, but all Christians.

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