The Blind Man in My Congregation

The Blind Man in My Congregation

Articles, Scripture Wisdom

Reflection on the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Sunday, October 24, 2021
Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6; Hebrews 5:1-6, and Mark 10:46-52.

Pope Francis embraces 10-year-old Paolo during his weekly general audience at the Vatican Oct. 20, 2021. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

One of my favorite moments in my ministry happened during Mass the day I found out I have a blind man among the people in my congregation. I must admit that I was intrigued about his blindness and how he sees himself among the “other blind people” in my congregation. 
I read an article that says that we have more than 1 million blind people in the US. I was concerned and intimidated by the numbers, but I realized that there are many other “blind” people that not part of any statistics. Yes, he is not the only blind person in my congregation. I must admit that we have many “spiritually blind” members sitting in the pews and listening to the Word of God weekend after weekend. They are in despair and in need of healing, but they have not yet asked Jesus for help.  

My blind friend is physically and legally blind and He knows exactly his purpose in life: to help others. He is a great pro-life advocate and a great volunteer at Sacred Heart Church in Webb City. He is one of the most dedicated and helpful people I know. He is a great musician and every time we host an event at the parish, he brings his band and plays great music for us. One day I interviewed him in front of many people, and he shared with us about his blindness. We asked him some questions, but they were two questions that hit my chest and my faith deeply: 

  • James, (not his real name) if you can recover your sight for a minute, what will be the number one thing you would like to see? His response was firm: A SUNSHINE or A SUNSET.
  • Name one thing that you are most grateful for that you are blind to “see”…He replied: I am glad I do not see so that I do not judge people for the most ridiculous things people do. For example: How others talk, how they walk, how they are dressed, how they hug others. At the end he said: people do not realize I cannot see, but I can hear very well. 

I think James’ story and Bartimaeus’ story have some similarities and they are so related to this weekend’s Liturgy of the Word. They remind us that we all need to recover our sight and we must take the necessary steps to get well. We must allow Jesus to heal us but also, we must take the steps to seek change in our lives.  I think we are doing a good job responding to God with our faith, but we are coming up short when it comes to loving Him back, to love Him in others, to recognize Him in others and mainly, we are very short in service and forgiveness with our brothers and sisters. 

Today’s first reading is about HOPE. God will bring us back to our normal journey and to a safe place. God provided for His people and kept his promise. Today’s Gospel invites us to embrace each day with a great hope and not allow anything to separate us from Jesus. Do not let anything keep you from Christ! We must be aware that our spiritual blindness affects our ability to follow Jesus faithfully and joyfully. Only Jesus can heal and restore our sight and help us to see Him clearly and to see others.  In Jesus, we are saved, and we can see the world, our families, our friends with new eyes. Once we recover from our spiritual blindness, we can follow Him devoutly like Bartimaeus and we will find great joy in loving and helping others. Once all of us choose Jesus as our leader, we will be getting closer to our final destiny:  HEAVEN. 

A blind man in my own congregation helped me to see things better that I often take for granted. He reminded me about the saying from a blind person with a sign asking for help: IT IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY OUTSIDE, BUT I CANNOT SEE IT.  

I am so grateful St. Mark brought Bartimaeus’ story to our attention in his Gospel today. Do you know why? Because it gives me hope and courage to seek my own healing. It gives all of us hope for our own healing. Perhaps we cannot have perfect 20/20 vision, but we can have perfect vision in seeing others, as Jesus does, with our own hearts. One of my favorite quotes comes from the book The Little Prince. It says: “Remember, the most essential things are invisible to the eyes.”

Lord, help us to see!

Father Gordillo is the Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, in Webb City, MO, and St. Ann Parish in Carthage, MO.