I encounter beggars on a regular basis.
There are some who come up to the gringo for a few lempiras. There are those who ask for help for a sick child or for medicines.
I have often told them, looking them in the eyes, that this is not my custom.
However, I have noticed that many Hondurans, including the poor, will reach into their pockets and give the poor person at least a lempira (about five cents). So I have now set aside a few five and ten lempira bills to have handy for cases of people with medical needs.
But there are also the beggars, often with a physical deformity, whom I see almost daily.
It bothers me that they use their deformity as a way to gain a living.
I contrast them to the poor man in a wheel chair who goes around selling lottery tickets.
But the people here still give to the deformed poor.
This morning, reflecting on today’s Gospel (Luke ) with the help of Daily Gospel 2013, I realize that the blind beggar was like these deformed poor. He, named Bartimaeus in Mark’s Gospel, had a scheme that worked for him, at least minimally, to get money for food.
But when Jesus asks him what he wants, the beggar answers, “Lord, that I may see.”
That meant that he would no longer have the physical disability that allowed him to beg. He would really have to change his life.
When we really see, we cannot remain as we are. We no longer can rely on our old habits. We have to be converted.
The no-longer blind, former beggar “followed Jesus, giving glory to God.”
When we see the glory of God manifested in Jesus, when we allow ourselves to see the glory of God in the human person fully alive (Saint Irenaus), when we struggle see the glory of God in the poor person fully alive (Archbishop Oscar Romero), we cannot remain the same.
For the glory of God is all too often hidden in the poor; it is ignored and insulted by poverty and injustice.
But when we see, we cannot ignore Jesus on his way to Jerusalem to offer himself for us. Nor can we ignore Jesus in “the distressing disguise of the poor” (Mother Teresa). We will have to change our lives.
May the example of the blind beggar give us the courage to lay aside our blindness and to follow Jesus.