Mass of the Thirtieth Sunday of the Year
25 October 2015
St. Macartan’s Cathedral, 10.30am
My dear friends,
The Heather Mountain Highway is a treacherous piece of road. It is narrow and dark; there are no lights. The road is not even, part of it is a dark narrow tunnel where careful drivers take it slow and hug the inside.
One evening a family had reasons to come home by this route after dropping another student off on the way. When the driver approached the short tunnel he immediately slowed down as he approached the most dangerous stretch of road. Suddenly, another driver pulled up behind him. He blared his horn and flashed his lights, making the Dad’s driving even more nervous than usual. Then, unbelievably, the enraged driver gunned his engine to 80mph and roared past them leaning on his horn the whole way. The family were terrified. Dad was so rattled that he stopped the car as soon as it was safe and checked to make sure that everyone was okay. When they got home that evening Dad called the police.
The next day the family learned that after passing them at what police said was more than 100mph, the manic driver swerved to avoid a truck and crashed. He was now on life-support, speculation was that he was drunk or drugged or depressed. He was certainly young and had not yet seen his twenty-first birthday. The incident happened years ago but the father never forgot that evening and his rage at the danger his family had been subjected to by the young fool. But now Dad remembers that evening – and the young driver – a little bit more “mercifully” than he once did.
He says “I find myself remembering that he was young and addled. He was somebody’s son. Those who loved him may have given up on him thinking he was lost and not reachable any further. I will always be furious about those few moments when he overtook. I will always feel a quiver of fear when I remember how close we came to death. But now, I also feel a shiver of something else for that poor boy. The idiot who came close to killing my children was a child himself. A good dad would pray somehow for that child if all children are our children, which of course they are. I have to find mercy inside pain, which we know is the work of a lifetime.”
A man and his young son went on a camping trip to the mountains. They hired an experienced guide who brought them into the heart of the great forest, and the beauty spots in the mountain that they themselves would never have found. The old guide was constantly pointing out beauty and wonders that the passer-by would never notice. The young lad was fascinated at the ability of the guide to see so much in all his surroundings. The lad was so impressed that he said “I’ll bet you can even see God out here.” The old guide smiled and replied ‘Son, as life goes on, it’s getting more and more difficult for me to see anything but God out here.”
Today’s Gospel may not be about the restoring of a blind man’s physical vision as much as about illuminating one man’s heart to see the goodness of God in his life. Over time, a father begins to see more than the irresponsible idiot who almost killed his family – he sees a troubled youngster, somebody’s son, a young man in need of help. As he restores not only physical sight but a sense of the reality of God’s love to the blind Bartimaeus, Jesus comes to restore our sight, to see God’s compassion and mercy in our lives, to heal us of our blindness to our own sins of selfishness and hatred we too easily explain away. To see with the eyes of faith gives us that perspective for recognising the spirit of God in every human being and for discerning the presence of God in every place and moment.
+Liam S. MacDaid
Bishop of Clogher
25 October 2015