Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bartimaeus, a Blind Man

                                    30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s first reading from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah is about the Lord’s deliverance of his people from slavery. He speaks of an immense crowd finally able to return to their native land.

Behold, I will bring them back
From the land of the north;
I will gather them from the ends of the world,
With the blind and the lame in their midst…

In today’s gospel reading from Mark we can see that the cure of one blind man by Jesus is a fulfillment of the prophecy. Bartimaeus was the blind man’s name. Actually “bar” means “son of” and so the poor beggar is only identified as the son of his father, Timaeus. Bartimaeus is begging at the entrance to Jericho when he hears that Jesus is passing by followed by a large crowd.  He raises his voice and says, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”

We are told that people tried to stop his shouting but he persisted until Jesus stops and calls for him. Immediately, the man jumps up and approaches Jesus who simply asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” His reply is simply, “Master, I want to see.” In a way, we can all put ourselves in the place of Bartimaeus when we approach Jesus. What prayer could we say that would be any better than “Master, I want to see.”

Mark does not bother with any details but only indicates that a few words from Jesus were enough to enable Bartimaeus to see. “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” 

Today, many people like to think of Jesus as a good man and a fine teacher. Despite the accounts of miracles like the one above, they find it hard to see that Jesus is something else. Such was not the case with the people who witnessed these miraculous healings as well as with the early followers of Jesus. In our second reading today, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews calls Jesus a High Priest according to the line of the ancient priest Melchizedek.

The role of the High Priest is to offer gifts and sacrifices for the remission of the sins of his people. He is also to deal patiently with the ignorant and the erring. While High Priests were taken from men to perform their role, Jesus was a unique and special case. He is the Son of God. His followers recalled the words at the Baptism.

You are my son: this day I have begotten you.

Jesus said that it was the faith of Bartimaeus that saved him and allowed him to see. But Bartimaeus could not see until he encountered Jesus on the road to Jericho.


Reading 1.  Jeremiah 31: 7-9
Reading II. Hebrews 5: 1-6
Gospel. Mark 1Mark 10: 46-52 (Bartimaeus, a blind man)

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