28 October 201830 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
30 Ordinary Time
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 10:46-52

The grandchildren suddenly realized their blind grandfather was missing. They finally found him planting trees in a nearby field. They were upset. The old gentleman calmly said, "But don't you see how future generations will admire these trees?" The blind grandfather could see. His family, each with 20/20 vision, were blind. Miserable people are not those who are blind but rather those who refuse to see. (John Kiley)

Blindness in Christ's time was common. Hygiene was very primitive. Eye doctors had not yet arrived with their magic drops and wonderful lasers.

However, what is interesting about this story is that the patient is given a proper name. Mark was not in the habit of being so specific. So, Bartimaeus is a VIP waiting to happen. When Jesus was walking by, Bartimaeus gave Him a raucous yell. His eyes were dead but God had gifted him with a first class set of lungs.

Onlookers tried to silence him, but Bartimaeus paid no heed. Then as now, people had no time or patience for the handicapped. Mark is telling us if you want to get something from the Teacher, you must keep after Him. You must even pester Him. You must not abandon your quest by saying, "God's busy; He's got the whole wide world in His hands!" The savant teaches, "You won't get an answer at God's door if you aren't knocking." Learn from Bartimaeus. You must know what you want. Generalities waste God's time. "Bring peace to the whole world" prayer is a no brainer.

Also from this incident one learns something important about the Teacher. Though all else lose their cool with the blind man's shouting, Jesus does not. He had every reason to. He was attempting to teach the people about His mission. So, obviously He will not get annoyed with you if you make a nuisance of yourself with persistent prayer to Him.

Bartimaeus shouts, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me." That was clearly a Messianic title. Like the grandfather who opened this homily, Bartimaeus, though blind, could see. His instincts were sharper than a fresh razor blade. The divinity of Jesus had come across to him in waves. But those about him, who enjoyed good vision, were blind to the Son of Man.

The blind and deaf Helen Keller said, "The most beautiful things in the world can't be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

Clever Bartimaeus saw Christ clearly with the eyes of his soul. So must you and I. Or in a saint's words, "I believe that I may understand."

The Nazarene uncustomarily did nothing to shush him up as he blew His cover. So, in John Ryan's words, Bartimaeus becomes the first person of record from whom the Master accepted an acknowledgment of His Messiahship. This is the reason Mark names this important man.

Jesus pauses in mid-syllable. This is a time for doing. He puts His own schedule on the back burner. He gives Bartimaeus center stage. More importantly, He gives him his sight. Many talk the talk but refuse to walk the walk. The Christ cannot be indicted for this crime. Nor should we who are His followers. We too should belong to the "Just do it!" school. Incidentally, do you still feel Christ has no time for you?

Notice please that Bartimaeus does not wear the Master down with small requests when He asks, "What do you want me to do for you?" Bartimaeus goes for the whole nine yards, "Master, let me see again." He gets his wish. Mark's point is none too subtle. When you come to the Christ, do not bother Him with Lilliputian requests. Go for broke.

Jesus obviously enjoys people who want the moon as well as the stars. He is one generous God. Should we forget it, we become the losers. John Newton sums up the case this way: "Thou art coming to a king. Large petitions with thee bring."

This is the last healing miracle in Mark's Gospel. In Bartimaeus, Mark presents a trinity worth pondering. As William Barclay notes, the blind fellow begins with a need. Secondly he offers a heartfelt thank you to his Healer. Finally in Mark's economic prose, "he followed Him along the road." That trinity is what Christian discipleship is all about - need, gratitude, and enlistment. We would all do well to take a page out of Bartimaeus' modus operandi. Let us not be among the many who, though not blind, still refuse to see.

Note well the cured man drives a heart through the tired old line that teaches seeing is believing. For him believing is seeing. 

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
30 Ordinary Time
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: By the Side of the Road We Cry Out

"Master, I want to see."

Jesus passes the Blind Man. Bartimaeus can only hear the commotion.

"Master, I want to see."

Our lives are full of images. There are images on TV, on the computer, on the tablet, on the phone. We spend our lives focusing on so many images that we miss that which we need to see, the Presence of the our Lord.

"Master, I want to see."

Jesus walked by blind Bartimaeus. There was no time for Bartimaeus to hesitate. If he did not take advantage of the presence of the Lord now, he would have remained blind forever.

"Master, I want to see."

We do not know how many opportunities we will have to respond to the presence of the Lord. Sometimes the doors he opens for us are only opened momentarily. A teenager hears a subtle challenge to the faith in school and asks his parents why their family was Catholic, why did they believe what they believe. How they could believe. The opportunity is right then to nurture his faith. A neighbor is looking for someone to speak to. He, she is lonely. His world feels so empty. She misses her husband so much. When they want to chat, we can take a few moments and bring Christ's love to her. A husband, a wife is discouraged. The spouse must be supportive now, not later. It is easy to say, "I have so much of my own stuff that I am dealing with." That is not what marriage is. Marriage is dealing with each other's stuff. And caring for her, for him. That's the sacrificial love that makes marriage a sacrament, a real presence of Jesus Christ. The Lord only gives us so many opportunities in life. We only have so much time to take advantage of each of them.

"Son of David, Have mercy on me."

Blind Bartimaeus calls out to the Lord invoking the name of David. David the great king. David the unifier of the Jewish people. David who was promised a reign that would never end. David who was told that one of his descendants, would be greater than he was, greater than he could ever imagine.

"Son of David, Have mercy on me."

The world longed for the Savior who has been given to us. Jesus the Christ is the one who brings order into the chaos of our lives. He is the Great King, the King of Kings. He is the focal point of the history of mankind. He is the Son of David and the Eternal Word of the Father. And he is reaching out to us.

"Son of David, Have mercy on me."

Bartimaeus realized that he was at the bottom of his society. No one had use for a blind beggar. He was in the way. When Jesus walked by, Bartimaeus made a nuisance of himself. "Quiet down, Bartimaeus. You're embarrassing us." But he was not embarrassing Jesus. Jesus saw him, hurt for him, called him, and had mercy on him.

"Son of David, Have mercy on me."

People want to convince us that we are numbers. They want to convince us that God is too great for us, that we are too insignificant. But no one is insignificant to God. Jesus sees each of us and loves each of us. "Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Bartimaeus' society had no use for the blind. They were forced to beg for food. But Jesus saw Bartimaeus, and hurt for him and healed him. Our society has no use for many people in many stressful circumstances. They made be infected with a terrible disease. They may be starving in a country of Africa or South America. They may be mentally ill in America. Our streets are too full of the homeless mentally ill. Shame on us. But Jesus sees all. He hurts for each of us. He reaches out to heal us. He calls. We must go to him.

"Son of David, Have mercy on me."

Bartimaeus realized that only Jesus could heal him. He had faith in the Lord. His faith is the basis of Jesus' mercy.

"Son of David, Have mercy on me."

Some of us suffer from injuries we have inflicted upon ourselves. Some of us suffer from the way we have been treated by others. Some of us suffer from ailments caused by no one, but just resulting from our human condition. We have heart problems. We have cancer. We are caring for a relative with dementia. We are beside ourselves with our problems and we wonder where can we possibly turn. Jesus passes by and says "Have faith in me."

"He is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

The eternal Father appointed his son Jesus to care for his people. He pleads with his Father every day for every one of us. We are significant because Jesus knows us and loves us and brings our needs to his Father. He is our eternal priest, forever, like Melchizedek. We have nothing to fear, ever.

Today's first reading proclaims: "Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The LORD loves his people."

God loves us.

Today and every day we proclaim his love to the world. He has had mercy on us. He has given us the gift of sight, the gift of seeing his love in our lives.

We have been blessed. We join Bartimaeus who immediately after he received his sight followed Jesus on the Lord's way to Jerusalem. We join Bartimaeus following the Lord on a new path of greatness, a path of sacrificial love, a path that leads to a New World that is the Kingdom of God.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
30 Ordinary Time

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
30 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
30 Ordinary Time
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today's Gospel we are given the story of Blind Bartimaeus for our consideration. This is the last incident to occur on Jesus' journey up to Jerusalem for the Passover where he is to meet his fate on the Cross of Calvary. But despite the fact that Jesus knows that this is the most important journey of his life and that he is shortly to face his own death he still is able to find the time to heal Bartimaeus. This shows us where Jesus' priorities truly lie.

Actually, there were a lot of people on the road that day as they were leaving Jericho; they were all going up to Jerusalem early so that they could be ritually purified before celebrating the feast of Passover. Jesus too goes there some days before the feast so that he can spend time in the Temple to prepare for the events that were to lead to our salvation.

Bartimaeus hears that it is Jesus who is passing and so shouts out asking Jesus for mercy. The people around who thought that Jesus was too important a person to have anything to do with an insignificant and blind beggar tell him to shut up, but he shouts all the more.

When Jesus asks the people to call him they, who were previously so anxious to shut Bartimaeus up, change their tune and in what sounds like a very patronising way say to him, 'Have courage.' One thing Bartimaeus was certainly not short of was courage.

Of course, we could also see this matter of needing courage to approach Jesus in the light of the group of people to whom this Gospel was addressed. In the early days of the Church when its members faced frequent persecution it took real courage to become a Christian. Seen in this light, these words about having courage are filled with meaning and significance. Those words, 'Take courage, he is calling you' would have been frequently on the lips of Christians in the first couple of centuries.

Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and jumps to his feet and comes directly to Jesus. One might ask why he was wearing a cloak when the climate of Jericho was noticeably warmer than that of Jerusalem. The answer is that he probably was not wearing the cloak at all but that it was spread on the ground to catch the coins people might throw to him.

Bartimaeus casting aside his cloak is probably a reference to him leaving aside all his worldly possessions to follow Jesus. The cloak and the rest of his clothes were probably the only things he actually possessed and indeed the cloak was an indication of his dependence on begging. It should be seen therefore that he was giving up his livelihood in order to follow Jesus.

He calls Jesus 'The Son of David' and by this he surely means not just that Jesus is a descendent of King David but that he is undoubtedly the Messiah, the one who was to save Israel. Addressing Jesus in this way is an indication of his faith in him.

When Jesus asks what he wants him to do he says, 'Let me see again.' Of course, we ought to recognise the double meaning here. Yes, Bartimaeus wants his sight back but he also wants to see with faith. He wants insight, he wants to have deeper faith than he already has. In recognition of the faith he has already shown his sight is instantly returned and he follows Jesus along the road. He moves then from someone who has faith but who was completely stuck because of his blindness to someone who is now a disciple of Jesus and who follows him along the road.

Jericho is seventeen miles from Jerusalem and interestingly it is far and away the lowest city in the world and also incidentally one of the oldest. A wall has been uncovered there which is dated at about 8,000 years old. It is believed to have been first inhabited in 9,000 BC.

Jericho is actually an incredible 850 feet below sea level, Jerusalem, however, is 2,500 feet above sea level and so although it is only seventeen miles away it is a very steep climb from one to the other. This journey that Jesus undertakes that day is therefore very much an uphill climb in all senses of that expression.

When Jesus says to Bartimaeus, 'Your faith has saved you,' we should note that the word saved has two meanings both of which are forms of healing. His faith has resulted in his restored eyesight which is a physical healing but it has also meant that he has won salvation in the spiritual sense. By this we mean that his soul is healed.

Salvation is most definitely healing of the profoundest possible kind. It is a wiping away of sin and a reconciliation of the individual person with God. Salvation ought to be our chief goal in life. Our deepest desire is to be restored to the Father and invited to share his life in the Heavenly Kingdom. This is healing in a total sense, a healing of both body and soul. From this story of Blind Bartimaeus we learn that Jesus is willing to offer us salvation, all we have to do is to express our faith in him.

Another interesting insight is that Jesus tells the people standing around to call the blind man to him. He could have called Bartimaeus himself since they were in earshot of each other. But I think Jesus asks the surrounding people to call Bartimaeus in recognition of the fact that the call of Christ normally involves other people.

Most of us do not ever hear the voice of God ringing in our ears telling us what to do. Usually God's call is mediated through another human being. It might be the priest who preaches the Gospel to us at mass, it might be a Catechist who explains the words of Jesus, or it may be our parents who teach us to pray. It could actually be anyone, even someone who is not really conscious of what they are doing. Quite often, it is the quality of our listening that makes the difference.

This is an important point, Jesus uses us to communicate his call to others. We should be aware of just how vital this role is and whenever we find the opportunity we should not be afraid to use those words of the bystanders in today's Gospel, 'Take courage, he is calling you.'
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