30th Sunday Reflection: Compassion as the Way of Vision
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Mark 10:46-52 –
Traditional wisdom requires that we have vision, to observe and to make deductions about origins and how-to live-in harmony with creation, to hold the past and future in balance with integrity to the present moment. Without this insight, philosophy asserts that we cannot begin to grasp creation nor our place in it that leads to the ethics of living.
Yet we are frail wounded beings, carrying within our collective consciousness our prejudices, fearfulness, uncertainties, illusions, phobias, all that results in our inability to love unselfishly, always demanding a return on our ‘investment’. We fear not being able to see, the dark, the unknown. Blindness and darkness, just like suddenly losing our mind, losing our memory, leads to loss of control, loss of identity, and loss of certainty.
Termed as ‘original sin’ or ‘original woundedness’, this is our inherited dysfunction that clouds our vision, tends towards doing things we would rather not do, saying things that should be left unsaid, judging others and all the other power games we use. St Paul termed this ‘seeing darkly, as in a glass’, distorted images, the very face of fear. This is why so many people failed to see and to understand the message that Jesus taught. That is why we can read and listen to the Gospel every Sunday, or even every day and yet have a total disassociation with the call to holiness in our daily lives.
Distorted power is wielded by instilling fear in people and by keeping them afraid. As long as we are kept in fear we can be made to act, speak, and even think as the ‘collective’. That is why Jesus tells us that the Way of Truth, ‘metanoia’, as opposed to our illusions, paranoia, will set us free.
Fear breeds fear. Fear cannot give birth to love. Our calling to holiness requires a radical new way of vision through compassion. Jesus seldom accepted many questions posed to him, exposing them as coming from this foundation of fear.
‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? How often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever? What authority do you have for acting like this? Are you the king of the Jews? Lord, has the hour come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
Jesus gently put them aside as questions that emerge from false worries, from our illusions and paranoia. These questions arise out of fear, concern for the loss of prestige, influence, power, and control. They do not belong to the Kingdom of God.
The need for certainty needs bonding with like-minded believers. Therefore, it’s ‘us’ against ‘them’. Anyone who is viewed as not seeing God, Holy Scripture, or the world as that person does is seen as the outsider, the enemy. Yet, these are the very outsiders and enemies to religious and political power that Jesus associated with, that are associated with God; the poor, the exiles, and the sinners. These do not have the luxury of illusions because they know themselves for who they are, they know it in the eyes of those who despise them, ignore them, and judge them.
Lord, let me see again! The blind man’s journey of our gospel is significant. Sitting at the side of the road, he is the model of all those who are marginalised, on the outside, rejected and forced to beg for mercy while the great ones of the world pass by.
Just like him, we are often silenced by the powerful, by the institution. The faith that saves him is shown by his unconquerable spirit, his refusal to accept that he is destined to remain there for the rest of his life.
Freed by Jesus from his blindness, Bartimaeus follows Jesus along the road. If we would see our lives, see those around us, and see our world, we also must cry out, ‘Master, let me see’. In the face of our need for forgiveness, we have to cry out, ‘Master, let me see again’. This is the radically new Way of Jesus through Compassion to Vision.