A number of years ago I was leading a retreat for senior high youth. Lunch time rolled around and naturally every one was hungry. I kept the pace of the retreat so that we would be able to break on time and we did. The pizza how-ever, was not on time. I reached deep into my bag of tricks and did my best to occupy the famished teens. After what seemed like a week in dog years, the pizza man arrived. He was greeted by cheers. The exasperated mom who had volunteered to serve lunch shifted into high gear. Despite her best efforts there is a limit to how fast you can put 2 slices of pizza and a serving of salad on a plate. There is also a limit to how many times you can sing “Pharoh, Pharoh”, but yet we both prevailed. Our singing however was sabotaged by a few stu-dents in the back who whined, “I’m so hungry, why can’t she hurry?” So like Christmas lights where when one goes out they all go out, as one student com-plained, soon they all were complaining and asking why can’t she hurry?
Since Pharaoh, Pharaoh had had gone beyond it’s life expectancy, I went into the kitchen and helped serve. I reserved any comment until after lunch. To my utter amazement as the students meandered back into the room, they were still commenting on how long it took her to get lunch ready when they were all starving. I could hold my tongue no more. I then explained that it would have been faster if they would have helped instead of complaining. Sitting and whining about being hungry is an example of being reactive. Seeing the prob-lem and acting on it is an example of being proactive. Reactive people are whiners and complainers. They are always the victim. Rarely do they accept responsibility for something. Proactive people do accept responsibility for their circumstance and then look to improve it. If they see a problem, they fix it. I then asked, who will have a happier life? Without question the group agreed that the proactive person would.
In today’s gospel we are a week out from Jesus’ crucifixion. The blind man, Bartimaeus, calls out to Jesus, “Son of David, have pity on me!” He is told by the crowd to be quiet, but he persists. Jesus hears his pleas and cures him. This story is not unfamiliar to us. There is even a song by the name of “Blindman” that I often play at youth events. What this gospel does not say, is perhaps even more important than what it does. To begin with Bartimaeus is the first person in the gospels to call Jesus the Son of David. He acknowl-edges Jesus’ royalty. What the disciples are blind to, he sees.
Next, He is being shushed for doing exactly what he should do: ask. Bartimae-us is being proactive. He is in a bad situation and is trying to improve it. In fact he stops begging, which is his only source of income, to ask Jesus to help him. That is exactly what a proactive person would do. To top that off, he dis-cards his only possession, a cloak. He is so sure that Jesus will cure him that he discards his only possession. Let’s not forget the crowd. The same people who tried to block this beggar from Jesus were the exact same people that Je-sus told to “Help him.”The hands that originally blocked the beggar are the ones that now led him to healing.
Catholicism is not for wimps. Nor is it for reactive. No, our faith is for the proactive. Proactive people chose to live a life where having the guts to say the name of Jesus and the faith to know that he has heard you is not easy, but it is always worth it.