Watching a movie in an IMAX theater is a fully immersive cinematic adventure. According to the IMAX website, it is a “heart pounding, awe inspiring, immersive experience.” Couple that with 3D and your experience will be optimized to a level unexplainable to others. This type of perspective and experience fired up my Spiritual curiosity. Are we seeing, hearing, and experiencing our faith the way it was designed to be experienced and lived? Are we fully immersed and filling the space between what we know and ought to know with awe inspiring inspiration or are we OK with our standard black and white perspective?
The idea of television was in the works as early as 1840s, and it would see many prototypes and improvements throughout the years. Starting with Scottish inventor, Alexander Bain’s facsimile transmission system, later revolutionized by American inventor Charles Francis Jenkins transmission of moving silhouettes in 1925. And again, improved upon by Kenjiro Takayanagi of Japan, introducing a 40-line resolution on CRT display. The world needed to buckle up because the video was about to kill the radio star, and the Baird “Televisor” would be the first shot fired, and MTV would be the final blow to the radio. The world was about to encounter a new “crystal clear” distorted perspective on life.
Human interactions would be shaped by their new view being formed by the television. Whether, in black and white, or color; standard, or high definition; HD, or 4K., life as we knew it was going to shift perspective faster than an optometrist switching lenses on you. We no longer just see images on screen, we experience it. Yet, our new set of eyes still needed more so it was further enhanced by a Three Dimensional (3D) feel. 3D is meant to fill the space between what you see on screen, and your actual eyes. So realistic is the space between that your body instinctively reaches out to touch it. First introduced in color with “House of Wax” staring Vincent Price, and later elevated with the spectacular that was James Cameron’s “Avatar,” audiences were left in awe and speechless at this, yet again, new perspective. Our realities have been “enhanced,” and “upgraded,” yet we have disregarded that our eyes are channels to our souls and our ears transmitters to carry God’s truth, beauty and goodness to our hearts. Humanity’s greatest visual enhancements were filling space, our minds, and our opinions, but we still struggled to see the bigger picture of life’s true meaning.
“As Jesus was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me’” (Mk 10:46-47).
Bartimaeus, a blind man, recognized Jesus upon hearing His voice. He did not recognize Him because he had met Him before. He recognizes the voice of his reason to hope. St. Augustine of Hippo writes in the “Harmony of the Gospels”:
“Consequently, there can be little doubt that this Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, had fallen from some position of great prosperity, and was now regarded as an object of the most notorious and the most remarkable wretchedness, because, in addition to being blind, he had also to sit begging.”
Bartimaeus had fallen from his upgraded and enhanced life. He thought he saw the bigger, clearer picture prior to being stricken with blindness and poverty. However, his perspective would start to shift as he found himself a beggar before God and finally heard the voice of his redeemer, savior, and friend. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” was what Jesus heard, but what Jesus witnessed was a true act of faith from this beggar. Bartimaeus “threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.” Though that may not seem like much. That cloak was his only and final earthly position. It was the final statement of his faith.
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says:
“This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer. He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer, only when we humbly acknowledge that ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought,’ are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. ‘Man is a beggar before God.’”
Bartimaeus first heard Jesus’ voice and then he saw Him clearly. Ironically, those who rebuked Bartimaeus and walked with Jesus, still did not see Him. Our sight and sound are a powerful combination that should not be limited to physical abilities. We who are a complex structure of body and soul do not always have to hear as we hear, nor see as we see. Hearing with the ears of faith and seeing with the eyes God are what we are called to do.
There are two ways this year that we will hear with faith and see with the eyes of God. First is embracing all of the Sacred Scriptures in our lives. Reading and praying with the Old and New Testament with equal conviction will allow you to hear the voice of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ more clearly in our lives. Venerable Fulton Sheen said:
“The Old Testament is like a radio with its hidden voice announcing the One to come. The New Testament is like a television because the Word became both audible and visible.”
Second is praying with the utmost humility, as if a beggar before our God. This cry to our God will strengthen our sight of love for the poor and will allow us to see clearly what God sees in our broken and impoverished humanity.
This year let us shift perspective with Bartimaeus’ resolution, rather than 4K. Like Bartimaeus let’s cry out to Jesus in humble and contrite prayer and throw aside our comfort in order to come to Jesus. The world has made everything else in life extremely crystal clear, yet the one thing that needs to be seen clearly has been distorted and downgraded. Let us experience our faith, like Bartimaeus and finally get the full cinematic experience of our Catholic faith.
Anchor columnist Oscar Rivera Jr., is director of Youth Ministry in the diocesan Secretariat for the New Evangelization. firstname.lastname@example.org