Peace to you!
I remember receiving an e-mail entitled “Christ the Redeemer” which was comprised of several photos of the statue of Jesus on top of Mount Corcovado at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The pictures accented the magnificent landscape of the Brazilian coastline by using the dramatic natural shades of light from sunrise, sunset, night and full moon. Many of the vistas were breathtaking but one seemed special for me. It was taken at night from an angle that looked down upon the city from over the statue’s shoulder—a view from God’s perspective as it were. The main streets were easily discernible from the strong glow of light, traffic and color. The harbor, beaches and resorts also reflected the city lights up toward the statue that is constantly present and watchful of all the activity taking place in the vast city below.
I tried to imagine the sound of many prayers rising to God in heaven from the hearts of all the people there. At the same time, I realized that there exists in that small area a great difference in life situations, needs, desires, and intentions. In the city of Rio, some of the differences are extreme. There are those who live in opulence and luxury and those who live in abject poverty with many more that live somewhere in between the extremes but they all live in one city and relatively close to each other.
I also remember meeting a priest from Brazil, Fr. Aito, while I was in the seminary. Fr. Aito left a comfortable life as a parish priest in Rio to live and work among the “Rubbish People.” This was very hard for Fr. Aito at first. He was ridiculed by former parishioners and other priests and threatened by his bishop but God placed a burning passion in him to be in solidarity with His beloved poor. Fr. Aito must have been an answer to many prayers and no doubt, he prayed more fervently and depended upon God more deeply than ever before as he served them.
When I think of Bartimaeus the blind man, I am reminded of my own blindness. Sometimes I can’t see how many blessings I have been given in my life until I am in contact with others. At times, I am blind to other people’s needs and the needs of the world beyond my sphere. I am reminded that we all have needs but our greatest need is to give and to serve in Jesus’ name.
Bartimaeus was inspired to call out loudly and persistently because he knew he had only one chance when Jesus passed by. Jesus asked him “what do you want me to do for you?” Like Bartimaeus, we are encouraged to rise from our place by the side of the road and sincerely ask for something we need. As our eyes of faith open ever wider and spiritual blindness leaves us, we can see the good that God does for us. We gain a new perspective on life and how we can follow Jesus by serving the needs of others. This is a new kind of freedom and fulfillment. God bless you always! +++ Fr Peter