Friday, November 11, 2011

Throwing Off Self-Sufficiency

Do you believe Jesus healed the blind, the lame, that he cast demons out of those who were possessed, or do you believe these are Gospel stories and are part of the genre of mythology the same as Homer's Odyssey?
Of course if you are reading this blog you most likely do believe those as eye witness accounts to what occurred when Jesus was on earth during his three year ministry before his sacrifice that opened the gates of heaven, and gave us the hope of eternal communion with God.

Peter Kreeft in You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible explains that writing off the Gospel miracle stories as myth is not a valid way of interpretting the Gospel accounts.  The evangelists were writing to pass on what they had seen.  They were not writing as Homer was, a work of mythology.  The choice is to believe they were writing what they saw, and heard, or to believe that they are liars.

It is hard to go the liar option because then you have to think why would these men leave their way of life to preach a faith that was in opposition to the state Religion and would bring them, all their loved ones, and all those that believed into criminal status with the Roman government.  If you ever get a chance to listen or read about the persecutions of the early Christians, it tends to reinforce, and clarify why martyr is another word for witness.

This has been a week where my faith has been challenged, but also affirmed.  Prior to visiting the Blessed Sacrament yesterday I was driving in my car feeling like crying, but not able to.  Instead I was just kind of groaning.

In Mark 10:46-52, we read about Bartimaeus calling out to Jesus, who he somehow knows and proclaims as the Messiah, when he calls out "Son of David, have pity on me."

Jesus does have pity on him.  He wants his disciples to bring Bartimaeus to him.  It says that Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, jumped up, and went to Jesus.

Fr. John Bartunek in the The Better Part had some good food for mediation on what might seem a straightforward healing of a blind man.

  • Persistent prayer has its reward.  
  • Bartimaeus is blind with his sight, but not with the eyes of his heart has belief that Jesus is the Messiah, and more important for his near-term suffering, that Jesus will have compassion on him if he asks him

    Do we remember this at all times?  Fr. Bartunek reminds us, "The heart of Christ is open to all and full of compassion."
  • "When we trust in God, we detect his presence, power, and love; when we trust ourselves, he often seems far away."

    That resonates with you doesn't it?  After I return from spending time with the Blessed Sacrament when I am upset, I wonder why didn't I just go there sooner?  Jesus is the Divine Physician so I guess it would not be lying if I sneak out of work and call it a doctor appointment.  I know he is here with me always, but darn if my own defenses while praying alone are too weak for me to receive what Christ is so ready to give.
  • Fr. Bartunek mentions that the Fathers of the Church wrote that the cloak that Bartimaeus threw is a symbol of self-sufficiency.  I did some googling to try to find the specific Church Father who said this.  If someone finds the primary reference, please leave it in the comments and I'll send you a prize as a token of my appreciation, provided you have an email as part of your profile.  While looking for the reference I found greater than 10 non-Catholic Christian blogs that also mentioned this, but didn't give any credit to Church Fathers specifically or generally.  I thought that was cool in a way--either if they might have come to it on their own through the counsel of the same Holy Spirit that inspired the Church Fathers, or if the teaching from before the Reformation has carried over into their scripture exegisis, despite it being part of "Tradition".
  • The cloak, which was protection against the rapid and frequent temperature changes in the Palestine climate, also doubled as a blanket at night, "a symbol of self-sufficiency, of those things in our lives that we depend on - things that can hold us back when we hear God calling."
  • When he left the cloak behind, Bartimaeus becomes an example of the faith that leaves that self-sufficiency behind, confidently trusting in the compassion of Jesus Christ.
  • "(Bartimaeus) couldn't see the warmth and gentleness and sincerity of Christ's eyes, so the Lord chose to communicate those things with his voice."
    I wonder if there wasn't something even stronger than the audible voice touching Bartimaeus.  I wonder if it was Jesus's heart and divine power reaching out and touching Bartimaeus's heart.
  • "Bartmaeus knew immediately that Jesus cared, that Jesus wanted to listen, to help.  The brief exchange draws these two hearts together . . . the beggar is . . . given a chance to bare his deepest longings to the Lord. . . . (T)he Lord welcomes them, takes them into his own soul, and grants them."

    I don't think this was just the blindness.  Bartimaeus was a beggar, without the dignity that comes from providing for oneself.  Unlike the paralytic, we don't hear mention of friends or family with him.  He is coming to the Lord alone.  The loneliness is probably something else that Jesus heals.  After the healing, Jesus doesn't send him away.  He lets him follow him down the road.
Bartimaeus was already free of the delusion I sometimes have that I can turn inward, maybe journal a bit, and heal myself.  I can't.  I need my Savior, I need the Father, I need the Holy Spirit that He has given me.  I also need the Holy Eucharist.  Just as Christ's physical presence was necessary for Bartimaeus's healing, I find it necessary for my inner healing, and I found that as recently as yesterday.

It is a wonderful gift to be able to surrender to Christ's love.


  1. Beautifully said Colleen. We all do need the Holy Eucharist for inner healing.

  2. Thank you, Noreen. I love that we are so drawn to the Lord in the Eucharist. I love that people like you worship him and receive him daily at Mass. Last Sunday, I didn't make it to Liturgy because my son was injured at the Religious class before school. I was so happy and thankful to be able to receive Jesus at Mass in the evening. What a gift Adoration and Jesus being reserved in the Tabernacle are for us.