We know that each inquirer’s journey in faith started long before s/he approached someone in the parish. In recent months we have met up with some people from close to home and some from eastern Europe, from Asia and from Africa. Diverse experiences of church and Christianity enrich our conversations and become parables that question our perspectives. We meet at a particular point on our roads of faith and know that God was there long before.
BarTimeus was on the Jericho road ahead of Jesus. This man seems to be nameless – recorded for us as ‘son of Timeus’. I’m reminded that all who come seeking baptism are already sons and daughters in human and divine relationships. Already they are prepared to recognise Jesus the Christ, already they have shouted out (or, at least, whispered their questions to someone) and been directed to ‘journey in faith’!
In his dark existence the son in next Sunday’s gospel story seems to have been waiting – on the ‘look out’ for possibilities of a different way of living, or seeing. He was restricted in physical sight but not in insight. He found the Son who took those possibilities way beyond his imaginings. We are told he was begging – waiting to be given what he needed to live on. So often we are witnesses in our Journey in Faith groups of the hunger that has developed for people when they experience new challenges in life. The birth of a child, or should I say, the awesome experience of becoming a parent, is one of those sparks that ignite a desire to see more, a recognition that they now perceive life differently. For others it maybe the death of someone close or a new stage in their children’s lives, or simply the culmination of years of questioning. For many different reasons people can find themselves “no longer at ease in the old dispensation…” (cf Journey of the Magi, TS Elliott). Ways that ‘fit’ for them in the past are no longer are enough.
Was the beggar’s ‘trigger’ the noise of the crowd around Jesus? The opposition he encountered made him shout louder. Recently a young mother faced an obstacle to being received into full communion. The questions she had then increased for her but they also led her to a firmness of resolve and a deep peace. Along with this she had a willingness to wait for God’s timing, not hers. Of course, she also took action but it was coming from a place within her that she had not, until then, known in its depths and its patience. The initial anxiety that she felt as a process of discernment was suggested gave way to insights and commitment beyond her expectations.
We all struggle sometimes to find a place from which to face the road ahead. In sharing the insights each is given we are all led to be more aware of our own way on the journey of discipleship. We may be blind to so much of God’s ways for us but have the assurance that healing is offered. With Bar Timeus we, too, ask, “Master, let me see again.”
Inquirers, sponsors and catechists alike, as Bar Timeus, come together to walk the road of faith for one reason and then find quite other reasons for continuing. Perspectives are altered on this journey. It may be a profound alteration as with another young woman who recently told us that she had never understood forgiveness before. The unfolding revelation changed her. Feelings of revenge and anger had seemed to her, a normal, even correct response to something like the murder of an innocent child. For many months the forgiveness offered by the child’s mother had bothered her. Now, however, she saw differently and felt that this change in her way of ‘seeing’ had effected a profound change in her. Looking back over recent months she spoke of seeing herself to be a different person now.
The beggar in Mark’s story was probably in a static place on the road so as to beg alms from those leaving Jericho and heading for Jerusalem. As that man became a traveller on the road he saw his life in a totally new way. He had somehow recognised that the person he was told was Jesus of Nazareth was in fact the Messiah and nothing would be the same again. He called out to Jesus as Son of David, not Jesus of Nazareth. He saw what other, sighted people could not see. Some tried to keep him quiet, keep him back – to keep him in his place? Once he was given sight Jesus told him to go, he was cured by his faith. What he did was to follow Jesus along the road from Jericho to Jerusalem – that faith led him was on a road of discipleship. There was nothing to hold him back now that he could see. To make the journey along that road takes courage. Asking for sight or insight means all that was familiar is open change. We are witnesses of this in the lives of our inquirers. May they see evidence of it in us too. It is the encounter with Jesus who asks to fill our needs that gives us what is necessary for the way ahead. As disciples there is companionship with him and his work to be done: a destiny in ‘Jerusalem’ to be faced.