30 Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 28, 2018
Where does it hurt?
That’s a question that Moms ask toddlers with a high degree of frequency. Am I right, Moms?
Towards the end of our lives, EMS responders, doctors, nurses, caregivers, and concerned loved ones react to the moans and groans of the elderly by asking the very same question…Where does it hurt?
During the “in between” years of our lives, when we feel the need to seek medical attention for whatever reason, the process of healing begins with the same question. Maybe not framed in the same simple way…but still, the patient initiates the healing process by explaining where it hurts. Even when the injury or condition is open and obvious, the person seeking relief needs to identify the source of pain.
We see that very same interaction between blind Bartimaeus and Jesus the healer. Although The Lord didn’t ask the simple question: Where does it hurt? and while it must have been clear to everyone what the man’s disability was, still, Jesus gave the man the opportunity to explain where it hurts.
On the surface, this passage presents itself as a straightforward healing, but there are elements all along the way that suggest that there is more at play here than eyesight. For example, why would the crowd try to quiet him and block his efforts to heal?
Once recognized by Jesus, he threw off his cloak and sprang forward. Could this detail be Mark’s way of telling us that, in spite of The Lord’s summons, the crowd was still trying to restrain him…hold him back from being healed? If so, they failed.
Jesus asked Bartimaeus the question that triggers relief: Where does it hurt? The man was obviously blind, but, still, Jesus asked that all important question. Of course, he replied: Master, I want to see! The Lord’s reaction is another little detail that alerts us that something even more miraculous was at work here, beyond giving vision to a blind man. Jesus attributes the healing to strength of faith. Could this possibly mean that the healing involved more than 20/20 vision? Could it mean that, because of his faith, the man was given spiritual insight to follow Jesus? Because he did. That’s how the drama ends…with Bartimaeus following Jesus.
I wonder if we might apply this miracle story in our own spiritual lives? For example, every Sunday morning when we get out of bed and join our sisters and brothers to share in Eucharist, in a way, we are ignoring the voices of the crowd. In order to worship, we ignore the kids begging to sleep in…the invitations to brunch…the Sunday morning news program that is too interesting to miss…even the weather. We shrug off another cup of coffee or the lure of our recliner and spring up and “go to Mass.”
Think about the first thing we do after the ritual greeting. Gathered together in prayer, even before honoring God with the Gloria, we enjoy the Penitential Rite. When you think about it, isn’t that a way for the Lord to say to each of us: Where does it hurt?
It seems to me that if we answer that question honestly and with sincerity of heart, we trigger the healing process that comes through the rest of the Eucharist. Isn’t the Penitential Rite our opportunity to tap into the healing power of Jesus Christ by telling the Lord exactly what we need?
And if we do that…speak truth…and tell God where it hurts…maybe we can expect to hear the words Jesus spoke to the blind beggar: Your faith has saved you!