Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrew 5:1-6; Mark 10: 46-52
“Master, I want to see!” This beautiful prayer sums up the message of this Sunday which proclaims the good news of God’s special attention and compassion 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. 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 labor. These were the people who had received spiritual sight; the ones enabled to know and understand the righteousness of the Lord who saves. 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 labor. These are persons who are not only afflicted, but often ignored and even silenced in society. The 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) near Jericho, as Jesus takes the final journey to Jerusalem. Mark uses this story to highlight a sharp contrast between the disciples who so far have failed to understand Jesus, and Bartimaeus, a poor beggar who knows and believes in Jesus and begs for healing, “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 story draws a sharp contrast between sight and blindness; light and darkness. While the disciples too are blind, Bartimaeus can see. 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”. Healing can lead to a powerful response. After regaining his sight the blind man becomes a disciple of Jesus and follows him on the way to Jerusalem. We too like Bartimaeus need to beg the Lord to heal our blindness. 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 to be best version of ourselves. When we receive that new sight, we will be able, like Bartimaeus, to choose the best way to live by faithfully following Jesus Christ, who is the way the truth and the light. So what message do we take home? 1) The readings proclaim the good news of God’s special attention and compassion for those on the margins of society. 2) The Gospel reading sets an example in the healing of Bartimaeus as a model for social ministry, namely caring for the less fortunate. 3) During the coming Year of Mercy, we are challenged to go to the fringes of society. Pope Francis too challenges us to bring hope to those by the way side, waiting for someone to restore their spiritual sight and vision in life, and so become the best version of themselves.
©2018 John S. Mbinda