17 November 2008 Monday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 18, 35-43 Pieces of God’s Heart
The Gospel is about the cure of the blind man. The beggar’s name was given by Mark the Evangelist. His name is Bartimeaus. In this incident, the disciples try to keep an “insignificant person” from bothering Jesus. But the Gospel reminds many of us as we journey with the Lord, that we might overlook the needs of the powerless.
There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. In fact, we have to know what we want in our life. We have to be sure of our dreams. We should be clear about our goals. It is not wrong to dream big for our future and our families. However, the Gospel reminds us not to trample anyone we meet along the way, to use people to achieve our goals, or to overlook ‘insignificant persons’ as we climb the ladder and progress in our journey. The good thing about Jesus is that He is able to attend to the needs of the many Bartimaeuses in His time.
Second, Jesus asks Bartimaeus specifically what he wants. And Bartimaeus answered that he would like to regain his sight. His answer is pretty obvious: a blind man would naturally want to see. But Jesus asked anyway. Questions clarify what we want. For example: Where do you want to eat? The answer clarifies the venue that is most desired among all other restaurants available.
To articulate our desires is important in its fulfillment. Maybe Jesus knew what he wanted (since Bartimaeus was blind). God may know our deepest needs. But it needs to be put into words. Not because it is God’s need (He knows), but it is appropriate for people with flesh and bones. St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches those who use the Spiritual Exercises to begin prayer by telling the Lord what grace they need. He had this insight from his experience. As a soldier, he experienced amidst desires of fame and glory, the indwelling of the Spirit at work in his heart. He engaged his deep desires with prayer using the Scriptures. When all of his desires were brought into prayer, he was able to personally connect with God. This brought inner transformation which eventually gave him inner direction for his desires.
The same thing with relationships. Our relationships with our friends become personal and unique because of this intermingling of our desires and the relationship. There are things that needed to be articulated into words, so that meaning is clear. Our actions often are vague or could have levels of meaning, and this contributes to confusion — unless you say what you mean precisely. However, there are things that are ambiguous, so we bring them to the table for discussion. When we talk about the issue, what we really want to say becomes clearer because we were able to explain it, and in turn, our friend is able to listen and re-articulate it. Only then that we know that our friends were in the same page as ours.
Underneath our desires is our yearning for God. Our desire to belong makes us realize that we yearn for community and friendship. And we yearn to belong to someone forever. Our desire for forgiveness is a desire for wholeness. As Bartimaeus articulated, “I want to see.” The yearning directs us to what is important in our lives. God has planted desires in our hearts, because desires direct us to Him. St. Augustine said that our hearts are restless until it rests in God.
However, it is also true the other way around: it is God who yearns for us as St. Ignatius said. To me it is like this: our hearts are pieces of God’s heart. Not that God needs us, but His heart cannot be at peace unless the pieces find their places back in His.