|Blind Man of Bethsaida, from the Armenian ms. Glajor Gospels (ca. 1301-1325) UCLA|
In today's gospel (Mark 10: 46-52), St. Mark recounts Jesus' healing of the blind beggar Bartimaeus. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" the beggar cries. Rebuked by the crowd, Bartimaeus cries out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" and Jesus asks him, "What do you want me to do for you?" Rabbi, let me recover my sight," he replies, and when Jesus says to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well," he recovers his sight.
In his beautiful Exhortation to the Greeks, St. Clement of Alexandria talks about blindness, light and dark, and receiving Christ the Light into our minds and hearts. It's a long passage, but it's so moving we're posting it in its entirety. If you use it for lectio divina this week, we suggest you read a paragraph a day. It's worth it!
The commandment of the Lord shines clearly, enlightening the eyes. Receive Christ, receive power to see, receive your light, “that you may plainly recognise both God and man”. More delightful than gold and precious stones, more desirable than honey and the honeycomb is the Word that has enlightened us. How could he not be desirable, he who illumined minds buried in darkness, and endowed with clear vision “the light-bearing eyes” of the soul?
“Despite the other stars, without the sun the whole world would be plunged in darkness.” So likewise we ourselves, had we not known the Word and been enlightened by him, should have been no better off than plump poultry fattened in the dark, simply reared for death. Let us open ourselves to the light, then, and so to God. Let us open ourselves to the light, and become disciples of the Lord. For he promised his Father: I will make known your name to my brothers and sisters, and praise you where they are assembled.
Sing his praises, then, Lord, and make known to me your Father, who is God. Your words will save me, your song instruct me. Hitherto I have gone astray in my search for God; but now that you light my path, Lord, and I find God through you, and receive the Father from you, I become co-heir with you, since you were not ashamed to own me as your brother.
Let us, then, shake off forgetfulness of truth, shake off the and darkness that dims our eyes, and contemplate the true God, after first raising this song of praise to him: “All hail, O Light!” For upon us buried in darkness, imprisoned in the shadow of death, a heavenly light has shone, a light of a clarity surpassing the sun’s, and of a sweetness exceeding any this earthly life can offer. That light is eternal life, and those who receive it live. Night, on the other hand, is afraid of the light, and melting away in terror gives place to the day of the Lord. Unfailing light has penetrated everywhere, and sunset has turned into dawn. This is the meaning of the new creation; for the Sun of Righteousness, pursuing his course through the universe, visit all alike, in imitation of his Father, who makes his sun rise upon all, and bedews everyone with his truth.
He it is who has changed sunset into dawn and death into life by his crucifixion; he it is who has snatched the human race from perdition and exalted it to the skies. Transplanting what was corruptible to make it incorruptible, transforming earth into heaven, he, God’s gardener, points the way to prosperity, prompt his people to good works, “reminds them how to live” according to the truth, and bestows on us the truly great and divine heritage of the Father, which cannot be taken away from us. He deifies us by his heavenly teaching, instilling his laws into our minds, and writing them on our hearts. What are the laws he prescribes? That all, be they of high estate or low, shall know God. And I will be merciful to them, God says, and I will remember their sin no more.