Driving up Kamehameha Highway towards the four-way intersection at Kaneohe Bay Drive, you’ll likely see a man holding a cardboard sign: “Hungry. Need money for food.”
If you see him, maybe you will respond in one of the following ways…
Perhaps you might pretend you don’t see him. You don’t know him. If you did, you would help him in a second. But instead you keep your eyes and head focused straight ahead as you drive past him.
Or maybe you see yourself as much more compassionate. You see the man and pity him. You wish you could help, but you don’t have the money or the time. “Maybe someone else will give him a hand”, you say to yourself as you drive past him.
Or maybe you do stop. You roll down your window. You give the man some loose change or a bottle of water or some extra food from your trip to McDonald’s. You wish him well and drive off.
Now which of these are we called to follow?
It’s obvious that one scenario is pleasing to God and to the man you helped.
And it’s also obvious that one is clearly not.
But one option sits in a gray area. It’s where many well-intentioned followers of Christ sit.
You can recognize this type of Christian by the language they use. Everything from “I want to help, but…” to “Someone else wI’ll help…” to “I don’t know him. Why should I help?”
It’s a spiritual blindness that many of us suffer through. It’s not so much the wrong we do that is troubling. But, rather, our hesitancy to do what is good and being fine with it. That should bother us more.
Have a look at our Gospel (Mark 10:46-52). Jesus and his disciples were leaving the city of Jericho. And there on the side of the road was a man begging for whatever kindness passers-by would give.
Bartimaeus was blind but could hear Jesus approach. Imagine the desperation in his voice when he cries out “Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!”
Keep in mind that Jesus was on his way into Jerusalem. The crowds couldn’t wait for their Messiah to claim his throne and rid Israel of all of its oppressors. There was no time to waste!
And suddenly here’s this blind man preventing their progress. How dare he stop us from seeing God’s will be done! Jesus has more important things to do than to bother with some blind man?
With all their enthusiasm for Jesus’ reign as King to begin, they missed the point of his mission. Jesus wasn’t here to be served as is owed to a king but to serve as a lowly servant.
If it was the kingdom of God these people wanted, they won’t find it by ignoring the meek, the poor in spirit, the persecuted. The kingdom of heaven can’t truly exist unless the least of these are also blessed by God (Matthew 5).
When there is injustice and we choose to do nothing, that is our spiritual blindness.
When we do choose to do something, but we let the fearful thoughts in our head pull us back, that is our spiritual blindness.
When we get so caught up in our own thoughts and concerns that we forget and ignore the needs of the poor among us, that is our spiritual blindness.
As we reflect on today’s Gospel, I pray that all of us recognize the Bartimaeus within us. I pray that we may recognize our helplessness and cry out, “Son of David, have mercy on me! Son of David, have mercy on me! Son of David, have mercy on me!”
And I pray that we recognize within us the spiritual blindness of Jesus’ followers on the road to the Cross. I pray that Christ would open your eyes, so that you may truly see the path Christ wants you to follow.