28Oct 28 October. 30th Sunday

1st Reading: Jeremiah (31:7-9)

The remnant of Israel will return from exile to their own land

Thus says the Lord: “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.”

“See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.”

Resp. Psalm (Ps 126)

R.: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy

When the Lord brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing. (R./)

Then they said among the nations,
The Lord has done great things for them.
The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed. (R./)

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing. (R./)

Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
they shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves. (R./)

2nd Reading: Hebrews (5:1-6)

Like Melchizedek, Jesus is a priest forever, our mediator with God

Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.

And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you;” as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Gospel: Mark (10:46-52)

Jesus hears the prayer of a blind man and gives him back his sight

As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.


Blindness and Sight

A contrast between previous blindness with new vision — the metaphor is ancient (Plato’s cave) and goes beyond matters of faith. We all have blind spots, some minor, others not so minor. Usually, it takes some event to trigger the recognition that we are not seeing with 20:20 vision. The same can be true at the level of faith. Perhaps we could make our own the request of Bartimaeus: Let me see again!

What do we want from God?

The gospels report many cases of Jesus healing blind people, but the case of Bartimaeus is told in the most graphic way, and it has several practical lessons. That man had lost his sight, and when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he had to make up his mind quickly. Should he just sit quietly and let Jesus pass him by, or he could seize the moment, and ask to be healed. Everyone knew Jesus had the power to heal, but you had to get his attention and ask to be healed.

In an American cartoon series called Snoopy, a sharp-tongued little girl called Lucy was trying to reform her schoolmate Charlie Browne. She glared at him critically. “Do you know what’s wrong with you, Charlie Browne?” she said. “What?” he asked nervously. Lucy fumed at him and said, “What’s really wrong with you is that, well, you don’t want to know what’s wrong with you!”

Bartimaeus was not like that, for he was well aware of what was wrong with him, and was determined to have it cured! When he called out to Jesus, people around him tried to get him to stay quiet. But he just shouted louder, and kept shouting until Jesus stopped and called him over. Although Bartimaeus was blind, Jesus stayed where he was and let the blind man come to him. If he really wanted to be cured, he would find a way to get to Jesus.

It was obvious that the man was blind, and yet Jesus asked him “What do you want me to do for you?” The man had to name his problem, and do so himself. If one of us needs to be cured of something, whether blindness, alcoholism, depression or any addiction, we need to say to God what’s wrong with us. We need to NAME what we want from God. Of course he knows our needs, and yet he says “Ask and you will receive.” “Your heavenly Father will surely give to those who ask.”

Bartimaeus’s words were simple and uncomplicated. There was no long speech, no haggling or wheedling. “I want to see” was his direct reply. And Jesus told him that his faith had healed him. Rightly, this blind man knew that Jesus would not turn away from the cry of the poor. Just think of what he did: he threw aside his old cloak, got up, and ran to Jesus. The old cloak may be a symbol for his past, his darkness, his despair. He made an act of hope-filled faith, and Jesus did not disappoint him. All attempts of the bystanders to silence him made him more determined. He was clear about what he wanted, and knew who could help him. That’s why Bartimaeus has a lesson for us all, here and now.

Knowing what to ask for

A blind man was invited to attend a wedding. The wedding church well known for its architecture and lovely grounds. At the reception afterwards the guests were commenting on how well the church and its grounds had looked. As the blind man listened to them he wondered, ‘But didn’t they hear the bell?’ For him, the church bell pealing out to welcome the bride and groom had been magnificent, filling the air with its vibrating jubilation. He was amazed at the atmosphere of celebration the bell created for the occasion. Everyone else seemed to have missed that element. Although he could not see, perhaps even because he could not see, his hearing was keenly alert. He heard the beauty that others missed. The vibrant sounds that the others ignored touched him very deeply.

Today we had the story of a blind man, a blind beggar. Although blind, his hearing was very sensitive, so he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Although he could not see, he made contact with Jesus through his hearing. His finely tuned ears led him to contact with Jesus, and then he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ Even when people around Jesus, perhaps even the disciples, tried to silence the man, he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Even though he could not see Jesus, he was determined to make contact with him  through this urgent prayer from his heart. He recognized Jesus as ‘Son of David’ (one of the titles for the Messiah), and hoped thhe at Jesus could heal his blindness. His prayer revealed that he had an inner sight. Even though  blind, he saw Jesus with the eyes of faith. Even when rebuked by angry bystanders, he refused to be silenced. He had the courage to keep asking for what he needed. This may have something to teach us when practicing our faith publicly can invite scorn.

This man’s plea literally brought Jesus to a standstill, though he was hurrying from Jericho to Jerusalem. The gospel says simply, ‘Jesus stopped.’ His response to the blind man was in complete contrast to that of the people around him. He is clearly  the champion of those whom others do not consider worthy of attention. Notice the extraordinary responsiveness of this man to the call of Jesus. When he heard the Lord calling him, he first of all threw off his cloak. His cloak, no doubt, served many purposes; it sheltered him from the weather; it was his bed; it was in a sense his home. Yet, he abandoned it, and having done so, he jumped up and went straight to Jesus. Nothing was going to hold him back from this encounter, not even his precious cloak. What is it that binds us and keeps us from approaching the Lord?

The question Jesus asked him was not brusque, like, ‘What do you want?’ Rather, it was more personal ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ It is a question addressed to each of us personally, and how we answer it can reveal what we truly value. Earlier in Mark’s gospel Jesus asked that  question James and John, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Their answer revealed their naked ambition, ‘Let us sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory?’ The blind man’s answer was altogether finer. Aware of his disability, he asked simply, ‘Master, let me see again.’ In answer, Jesus praised the man’s faith, ‘your faith has saved you.’

Once Bartimaeus received his sight, he followed Jesus along the road. He immediately used his newly restored sight to go as a disciple up to the city of Jerusalem, the place of Jesus’ sacrifice. His faith had shaped his hearing and his speaking, and now it shaped the path he would follow. We could do worse than take Bartimaeus as a model of faith in our own lives. Like him we are blind beggars who need to keep on calling out to the Lord who passes by – in order to see him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.

Machtnamh: Cad a lorgaímid ó Dhia?

Tá roinnt ocáidí ins na soiscéil in a luaitear daoine dall a leigheasaigh Íosa, ach is dócha gurb é an ceann is fearr ná leigheas Bartimaeus, agus tá ceacht praiticiúil ann dúinn. Chaill an fear bocht a radharc, agus nuair a chuala sé go raibh Íosa Nasaret ag dul thar bráid , b’éigean dó cinneadh a dhéanamh go tapa. Gheobhadh sé fanacht in a shuí go ciúin agus ligint do Íosa dul ar aghaidh gan bacaint leis, nó ar an dtaobh eile, dféadfadh sé an deis a thapa agus iarraidh ar Íosa, é a leigheas. Bhí an slua ag rá go raibh an chumhacht ag Íosa daoine a leigheas, ach caithfeadh s aire Íosa a tharraing air féin, agus achainí a dhéanamh air radharc na súl a bhronnadh air. D’iarr Íosa go chineálta ar an bhfear dall, “Cad is mian leat go ndhéanfainn ar do shon?” Níor mhór don bhfear a fhadhb a ainmniú, a raibh de dhith air a léiriú. Nuair atá rud éigin ag cur as dúinn, daille, alcólacht, dúlagar nó aon andúil mar shompla, ní mór dúinn a rá le Dia cad atá cearr linn. Ní mór dúinn AINM a lua leis an rud is mian linn ó Dhia. Ar ndóigh, tá a eolas ár riachtanaisí ag Dia, ach deireann Íosa “Iarr agus gheobhaidh tú.” “Is cinnte go dtabharfaidh d’Athair neamhaí dóibh siúd a iarrann air.”


Simon and Jude, apostles)

In the various New Testament lists of the Twelve, the tenth and eleventh apostles are named as Simon the Zealot (or Simon the Canaanean) and Judas son of James, also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. (Judas corresponds to the Hebrew name Judah.) An early Christian tradition told of Simon and Jude going together as missionaries to Persia, where they were martyred. .

One Response

  1. Joe O'Leary

    To dissolve the contradictions between the three versions of the healing of the blind at Jericho, Origen of Alexandria posited three different healing events. I found that this is still the solution of fundamentalists:

    “But this difficulty will disappear if we will employ the method used in earlier messages to clear away discrepancies in the gospels. If we do this, we will see that not one but three miraculous healings of blind men took place in the vicinity of Jericho that day. Not one or two but four blind men were healed. That there was more than one blind man in a city the size of Jericho is logical and seemingly obvious. Blindness was common in Israel at the time, and some have speculated that up to 10% of the population might eventually have gone blind. That more than one such blind man would be healed during Christ’s journey through the city is not a baseless assumption, but is rather a sensible thing. The Lord Jesus did not have a limited amount of power that He could only heal one blind man a day. No doubt there were many healings of blind men very similar to these three that we do not have recorded in Scripture.”

    Mark’s version (Mk 10:46-52) is the one imitated and varied by Matthew (Mt 20:29-34) and Luke (Lk 18:35-43), and it is by far the liveliest of the three.

    “Bar-Timaeus, son of Timaeus” is quite a pother about his name, but interestingly he is the only one in Mark to call Jesus “Son of David” which is also the first public recognition of his Messiahhood. This is the last miracle in Mark, located at a major moment, as Jesus mounts the steep road to Jericho.

    I traveled up and down that road in December 1977, hitching a lift from an Israeli couple with a rifle in their back seat and feeling the air pressure as we went down, down to the level of the Dead Sea. I chatted with a man at the archeological site there who well remembered “Miss Kenyon” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Kenyon).

    Jesus is at a distance from the man, and has to tell his disciples to go and call him (and their words “Courage, stand up, he is calling you!” are missing in Luke and Matthew, where the mediation of the disciples is slighter.

    In Mark the man casts off his coat and makes his way to Jesus — through the great crowd, though blind — whereas in Luke he is more passive, as Jesus tells the disciples to bring him to him. The casting off of the cloak is also missing in Mt and Lk.

    The detail of Jesus stopping, in all three versions, is a striking one. He hears, he listens, he asks, he responds.

    Why does Matthew have two blind men? There is a doublet of the story in Mt 9:27-31. In both Matthaean versions Jesus touches the blind men’s eyes and the phrase “their eyes were opened” occurs. Followed by the healing of a dumb man (9:32-4), also unique to Matthew, and a Matthaean remark on the compassion of Jesus (9:35-8), which uses the same verb esplankhnisthe as in the Matthaean version of the Jericho story (9:36; 20:34), this whole tableau, closing the first of the five narrative sections in the body of the Gospel (Mt 8-9), shows Jesus as fulfilling Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy, which Jesus will allude to in response to the question of John the Baptist (11:5). Two blind men rather than one perhaps reflects the collective character of the salvation he brings.

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