Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Peter 2:2-15.9-12; Mark 10:46-52)
Is there any virtue more American than autonomy? More than anything else Americans want control over their own lives. We want our own car, even our own home. When we are sick, we ask to be kept abreast of our condition. We want to die when we are ready, and then we want to write our own funeral script.
Autonomy is good for it allows us to give ourselves in faith to the Lord. In the gospel passages for Monday and today we meet two contrasting figures – one autonomous from the start and the other made so by Jesus. The man who approached Jesus asking what he must do to attain eternal life was perfectly autonomous. He came looking for Jesus under his own power and ably put to him his question. Disappointed with Jesus’ answer, he left because he had many possessions – another sign of autonomy. On the other hand, the blind man must sit and wait for Jesus to pass by. He is completely at Jesus’ mercy in that if Jesus chooses to ignore him, there would be no way for him to make his request. Jesus’ bestowal of sight grants the blind man autonomy. The man makes good use of it: he follows Jesus on the way to Jerusalem. In his case, but not in the first man’s, autonomy leads to salvation.
A woman of indeterminate age was standing in church at mass. You could not tell her age because she was little more than two feet tall! She looked mature but it also appeared that she was part of a family with children who were nine or ten. Her situation was freakish and yet she appeared to be content. She eagerly participated in the peace rite and then took communion. Looking at her, one feels sorry but perhaps that such sorrow is misplaced. Like the blind man of today’s gospel, she apparently uses whatever autonomy she has to follow Jesus. Like the blind man, her autonomy apparently ends in salvation.