Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.

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Bartimaeus, the blind man on the road to Jericho (Mark 10:46-52) is a good example of the power of the prayer of petition. “On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.’” Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The answer is quick, clear and certain. “Lord, I want to see.” The request is granted. “Be on your way, your faith has healed you.” Immediately, the blind man received his sight and began to follow Jesus up the road.

Salvation consists in doing the will of God. It is the most perfect thing we can do. So we are always trying to discern what is God’s will for me. Jesus turns that question around and asks us, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus is telling us that our will, our desires, our ambitions are important. They are important because they say a lot about ourselves, our values, our commitment, and our treasures. “Where your heart is there is your treasure.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” We could hardly give a better answer than that of the blind man. “Lord, I want to see.” I want to see not only with the eyes of the body but also with the eyes of faith. The two visions are quite different. For example, two people watching the sun setting in the West. Both are awed by the spectacular sight. One sees and comments on the magnificent beauty of the scene, the other sees God and praises God. In other words, faith strengthens our power of intuition. Intuition comes from the Latin word “intuit” which means to see through. The image goes from the eye to the heart without going through the intellect. The image becomes the icon. Seeing becomes believing. As Paschal said, “The heart has reasons the intellect does not know.”

With the eyes of the body we see in the world senseless wars, terrorist’s bombings, famine, political corruption, corporate scandal, murder, suicide, environmental pollution and possible nuclear disaster. In ourselves we see a civil war, the law of the body warring against the law of the mind. We see that we are a bundle of contradictions, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. “The good we will we do not and the evil we will not that we do.” We are proud as angels and act like jackasses. And we see much of the same in others.

Radically different is the vision of faith. With the eyes of faith we see a world full of beauty, truth and goodness. We see how God loves and cares for the least of his creatures and especially those who are made in his own image. We see that nothing happens in this world by chance. Whatever happens is either positively willed by God or at least permitted by God. And to those who love him all of these things, even the evil, work together for good. With the eyes of faith we see the beauty, truth and goodness in ourselves and others. We see that each person is unique, unrepeatable, and indispensable, gifted and graced. And that God loves each one unconditionally.

We need both of these visions if we wish to be realists, if we wish to see the wonderful world of reality, which is more mysterious and much more romantic than fiction. As some one has said very well, if you wish to be a responsible Christian you have to read two things every day, the Bible and the daily newspaper, and never one without the other. One gives us the vision of the body and the other the vision of faith and we need both.

“Lord, I want to see,” first with the eyes of the body so that I may not be blind to the reality of the evil in the world, in myself and in others. I want to see also with the eyes of faith so that I might not be blind to the beauty, truth and goodness in the world, in myself and in others. But most of all, Lord, I want to see You by Whom I was made, for Whom I was made and without Whom I can never be happy. Lord, I want to see You dimly now by faith and at the end of my life clearly, face to face and be with you forever.


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