GOD CAN'T RESIST WEAKNESS
We have been doing some traveling this year and one of the times, we were in an airport for a layover. As we were sitting at the waiting area at the next gate for our plane we hear the crying shriek of a little 2 or 3 year old desperately crying, “Mama, Mama.” It had been lost of course, and with its arms out stretched you would have thought that the little one was in total agony. Every adult in sight, particularly the mothers all went running toward the little one. Sisters and brothers, it is not our strength, it’s not our perfection, it’s not our goodness that drawn God to us. It’s our weakness! Just as those adults could not resist the out stretched arms of the little child, so God cannot resist coming to you when you cry out, not out of your strength but our of your weakness. St. Theresa, said, “How sweet it is, how sweet it is,” how many of us would agree with this, “To know that I am weak, because when I cry to God from my weakness God has to come!” It’s God’s job description, and we see it so perfectly illustrated in this Gospel today.
This poor blind man Bartimaeus, you wonder how many years he had been sitting there, in his weakness. There is no mention of any credits, not saying he went to the temple on Saturday or obeyed the commandments or he was in his first marriage, no nothing. Not a single good thing is said about him. All that is said is what he said on the day that Jesus was walking by, “Jesus Son of David, have pity on me.” Then Jesus comes running toward him! It is really amazing to me that we can miss such points.
Our bishops as well as some young people and women and men are part of the Synod2018 in Rome for most of October to discuss young people, faith and vocational discernment. Apparently they got into some quite strong arguments, although the final document is very good, deciding who was worthy to be part of the church and who was not, in the final analysis it not so much that your worthiness. We are all unworthy, we are all sinners, forget that.
Unless we face our own weaknesses, it is very hard to be patient and accepting of other people’s weakness. That is what exactly was said in the second reading. Perhaps you didn’t hear it, let me repeat it. It speaks about the priests, and it says “A priest is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.” Unless one has recognized one owns weakness, we all, not just priests, we tend to be very impatient and judgmental, and sometimes even cruel to anybody else who isn’t supposedly perfect.
So we have an image in Bartimaeus, of a physically imperfect person. And of course the physical self is merely a sign of the internal self. It’s not the physical blindness that was significant. It was that this man learned how to see, what matters, what’s real, what’ good, what’s true, what’s lasting. And that is the blindness that Jesus always comes to heal!
I saw such miracle working a few weeks ago, we had a dying patient, who was questioning her value, she felt as if she had nothing, she was not living in her own home, she had little financial income, very little visitors, her health was declining and she was at her wits end. In desperation she cried out to the Lord, “Jesus, have mercy on me!” The next day, she started to realize what she did have. She had a roof over her head, three meals a day, and people to help her in her activities of daily living. Do you know what she began to do? She began serving her roommate. Watching out for her. Having people assist her roommate without her knowing it. She found value in her life even in her weakness. The Lord answered her prayer. Quite simply because she could embrace other people’s weakness. That’s the Jesus we are waiting for. That’s the Jesus we love and trust and so desperately need. So you and I are the same as Bartimaeus, all we can do is not list our credits and our worthiness. But like little and weak people cry out to God, saying “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” I believe when you say that with a sincere heart, it’s always going to happen. Always. So don’t come to God from your strength. Come to God with your weakness.