The Joy of the Gospel
The Joy of the gospel is the title of Pope Francis's first encyclical and is the subject of today's Gospel. The blind man, Bartimaeus, is deprived of joy through his lack of vision. He cannot work and has to beg, his life is joyless in his darkness. Mark tells the story of of how Jesus fills his life with joy, rescuing him from darkness and restoring his sight to see the beauty of God's Creation around him and to see the face of the Father's beloved Son Jesus. This story is for all of us, especially many of us who are lacking in the joy of the Gospel. The steps of Bartimaeus to reach Jesus point the way for us to find an abundance of joy in our lives. The blind man has to cry out the name of Jesus, "Son of David have pity on me". In the face of opposition to stop crying out he prays even louder. "Son of David Have mercy on me". In approaching Jesus he throws off all that hinders him. Jesus asks what do you want me to do for you and he has to ask for his sight. These gestures of the blind man show Jesus that he has faith and his faith restores his sight. There follows into the blind man's heart the joy of the Gospel of Jesus. The joy is to know that It is God who has heard his prayer. It is the joy of his people who God promises to restore their lost causes and bathe them in his light.
Today this story invites us to cry out to Jesus to open our spiritual eyes. A lack of joy reveals spiritual blindness and is a symptom of spiritual darkness. If we want the joy of the Gospel we have to cry out, "Jesus have mercy on me". We have to throw off all that hinders us and long for an encounter today with the healing power of Jesus. We will be asked by Jesus, what do you want me to do and we need to be give him a clear answer, Lord that I may see you, that I may know your Father's will for me, that I want to see you not just with physical eyes but with spiritual eyes, through the eyes of faith.
Once Jesus opens the eyes of our soul we will experience the joy of the gospel, inner peace and happiness that ring the bells of our heart. This experience is for all, not just for a few, it is the joy of the real believer, the one who can break away from the culture of materialistic blindness and long for the fresh eyes of God's Spirit. We will long to have the healing touch of Jesus, to cry out the words of Bartimaeus, "I want to see Jesus". If we let our faith break forth our hearts will experience the joy and promise of the Gospel. Spend a little time praying the prayer of Bartimaeus.