On Sunday, October 28th, I preached on the healing of Bartimaeus from his blindness (Mark 10:46-52). The week before, as I prepared my homily, it became obvious to me that the date I was going to preach was not a coincidence. In 2005, October 28 was on a Friday. Not just any Friday, but the Friday of a Cursillo Men’s Weekend (271). This was my Cursillo weekend.
In 2005, I, like Bartimaeus, was blind. Blind to God’s presence in my life. Blind to the sin in my life. Blind to God’s great love and mercy. Unlike Bartimaeus, I did not know that Jesus was coming my way that very day. Thursday evening when Bill had dropped me off at St. Therese in Deep Haven, I thought this was probably going to be a good weekend. Denise, my wife, wanted to do this retreat. So, I was also doing this for her. God, though, is a God of surprises. Only He knew the surprise that was needed to break through my spiritual blindness.
That Friday afternoon, Jesus showed up in a classroom at St Therese in the form a bag of letters. As I began to read each letter, He broke through my blindness. People that I did not know had been praying for me. Many had been doing acts of self-sacrifice for me. These were not random acts of kindness. These were intentional acts of sacrifice. These were true acts of love, an act seeking the good of another. They were doing this for me. Why? This was the surprise that was necessary to open my heart that had grown hard, cold, and stoney. As I continued to read letter after letter, it became hard to read through the tears. I don’t remember how many tissues I went through that afternoon. It could easily been the whole box. That afternoon, Jesus broke through my blindness and I experienced for the first time the great love that Father had for me. A love that I had not earned and that I definitely, did not deserve. A love freely and lavishly given by a God that I did not know.
Jesus had broken through my blindness to his love, but I was also deaf to his mercy. He needed to heal that as well. Later that evening, I decided, after over 15 years, to go the sacrament of reconciliation. Everyone else was going, I guessed I could go as well. I went into the confessional facing Father Marty. I told Father that I had not been to confession in a long time. I knew that I sinned but that I could confess my sins to God. Father then said those words that broke through my deafness to God’s mercy, “Have you forgiven yourself? Have you really accepted God’s mercy and forgiveness?” These words cut to my heart. The answer was that I had not accepted God’s mercy. Father and I had a long talk
that evening in the confessional. I remember hearing those words that I had not heard in a very long time and that, maybe for the first time, I believed, “I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Conversion and transformation of my heart began that day, October 28th, 2005 and continues to this day. God is very good. He wants to break through our blindness to the Father’s great love and shatter our deafness to his mercy. So, go to confession on a regular and frequent basis. You and I always need more and deeper healing and Jesus wants to do this for us. Also, continue to make intentional acts of sacrifice for others a habit in your life. Your intentional act of sacrifice for someone in your life may be just the tool Jesus will use to break through that persons blindness to God’s infinite love and mercy. There are many Bartimaeus’ in the world today.
“Belatedly I loved you, beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly have I loved you. You were with me, but I was not with you. These things kept me far from you, even though they were not at all, unless they were in you. You called and cried aloud, and forced open my deafness. You gleamed and shined, and chased away my blindness. You breathed fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for you. I tasted, and now I hungerand thirst. You touched me, and I burned with love for your peace.” -St Augustine
Dn Patrick Hirl