October 25 Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrew 5:1-6; Mark 10: 46-52
This Sunday we joyfully celebrate the presence of Christ who opens our eyes to see the marvels God does for us in his Son as high priest and mediator with the Father. The first reading underlines God’s special attention and love for those on the margins of society. In the First Reading the prophet Jeremiah foresee the coming deliverance of the Israelites from their Babylonian exile and proclaims that good news with joy and praise to the Lord who has delivered his people. The passage is a hymn of praise and rejoicing because of what God is about to do for his people. In this joyful moment, the people sing aloud with gladness, displaying endless echoes of thanksgiving to God who has delivered the weak, the lame, those with children and those in labour. These were the ones who had received spiritual sight, they knowing and understanding the righteousness of the Lord that delivers salvation. It is not by chance therefore that Jeremiah speaks of the Lord gathering from the ends of the world the lame, the blind, women with children and those in labour. These are persons not only afflicted but often ignored and even silenced in society. This prophecy serves as the context for the Gospel passage of this Sunday.
The Gospel passage is about the healing of the blind man – Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus). Jesus leaves Jericho, the final part of his journey to Jerusalem. Mark uses this story to highlight the sharp contrast between the disciples who so far have failed to understand him, and Bartimaeus, a poor beggar who understands who Jesus is: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” The disciples on the other hand try to silence him twice when he calls upon Jesus to be healed. The point of the passage here is that the disciples too are blind. St. Mark places the restoration of sight to Bartimaeus by Jesus in this context. Mark also wishes to underline the dimension of faith in Jesus’ final words, “Go your way, your faith has saved you”. Only after regaining his sight was the blind man able to follow Jesus on the way to Jerusalem. We too like the disciples are sometimes spiritually blind to the demands of our calling and commitment. Therefore, like Bartimaeus we need to beg the Lord to let us see again. The Lord is always there asking us the same question, “What do you want me to do for you?” If we are honest about our own blindness, the Lord will certainly heal us. Like the blind man, our prayer this coming week should be, “Master, I want to see”. If we wish to see Jesus, we have to draw closer and ask him in faith to help us, that we may be able to see him clearly; that we may regain our lost vision and purpose in our calling as Christians. When we receive that new sight, we will be able, like Bartimaeus, to choose to turn from our old ways and faithfully follow Jesus Christ, who is the way the truth and the light. Our new sight should enable us just like Bartimaeus to follow Christ on the way to Jerusalem. So what is the message? 1) God’s special attention and love for those on the margins of society is indeed a challenge to all of us to be more open to serve; 2) The Gospel reading challenges us to see in the example of what Jesus does for Bartimaeus a model for our ministry; 3) There are so many people within our parish community that sit by the way side blind, waiting for someone to restore their vision in life; to recover their human dignity and assume a normal life.
©2009 John M. Mbinda