30thSunday in Ordinary Time
- · Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- · Joke of the Day
- · Today’s Gospel Reading
- · Gospel Reflection
- · Reflection Prayer
Last Sunday, October 21st, Pope Benedict XVI added seven more saints onto the roster of Catholic role models, saying their example would strengthen the Church as it tries to rekindle the faith in places where it’s lagging. Two of the seven were Americans:
Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint from the United States. Known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” Kateri was born in 1656 to a pagan Iroquois father and an Algonquin Christian mother. Her parents and only brother died when she was 4 years old, during a smallpox epidemic that left her badly scarred and with impaired eyesight. She went to live with her uncle, a Mohawk, and was baptized as a Catholic by Jesuit missionaries. However, she was ostracized and persecuted by other Native Americans because her Christian faith. She died in what is now Canada at 24 years of age;
Mother Marianne Cope, a 19th century Franciscan nun who cared for leprosy patients in Hawaii. Mother Cope led a band of Franciscan nuns to the peninsula to care for the patients, just as Saint Damien did in 1873.
The other new saints are:
Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino teenager who helped Jesuit priests convert natives in Guam in the 17th century, and was killed by spear-wielding villagers who opposed the missionaries’ efforts to baptize their children;
Jacques Berthieu, a 19th century French Jesuit who was killed by rebels in Madagascar where he had worked as a missionary;
Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian who founded a religious order in 1900 and established a Catholic printing and publishing house in his native Brescia;
Carmen Salles Y Barangueras, a Spanish nun who founded a religious order to educate children in 1892;
Anna Schaeffer, a 19th century German lay woman who became a model for the sick and suffering after she fell into a boiler, badly burned her legs. These wounds never healed, causing her constant pain and suffering.
Today’s reflection blog is my 450th to be posted. I started blogging in late September, 2009. During these three years, my writing style and format has grown and matured significantly. (So, please don’t read the early blog entries as they are embarrassing to me.) My blog has been discovered, and read, by Catholics and non-Catholics (and even a few atheists) throughout the world, which for me is a marvelous grace from God. I truly do have a deep and humbling gratitude to our magnificent Lord for imparting to me this spiritual grace.
I wish to thank you, my readers, for looking at my thoughts and reflections on God’s “Way” to His kingdom. I finally wish to thank a dear friend, a special confidant, and my “Spiritual Director”, all rolled into one dynamic individual, John Hough. Without his help, my knowledge in biblical history, theology, and philosophy would still be at an undeveloped level. He has earned a place in heaven solely for dealing with me on a weekly basis.
Some of you may ask how this blog is doing in “getting the ‘Word’ out” to others. Well, in my first month of posting this blog (09/2009), I had 71 views or hits on my site, and only 500 views that entire first year. As of this date, only three years later, I am averaging 314 views or hits DAILY, and I am on schedule to have over 66,000 views or hits for this year alone. On my busiest day, 728 people visited my site (April 7th, 2012), and I have had over 108,000 total views of my site as of Friday, October 26th, 2012. WOW!! Thank all of you again for travelling with me – – and Christ – – on a magnificent journey in – – and to – – His kingdom.
Today’s reflection: Jesus restores sight to the blind man, Bartimaeus. How well do you see Jesus?
(NAB Mark 10:46-52) 46 They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. 47 On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.” 50 He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. 51 Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” 52 Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
Today we continue to read from Mark’s Gospel. In this reading, we find evidence of Jesus’ growing recognition, reputation, and celebrity by the “sizable crowd” accompanying Him as He continues His traveling to Jerusalem for Passover. Jesus’ reputation as a healer has obviously preceded Him to Jericho, for a “blind man” was anxiously waiting for Jesus to pass by him on the road. When the “blind man”, named “Bartimaeus”, hears of Jesus passing by, he calls out to Jesus, asking for His “pity”.
When Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus, the crowd around him tries to silence him. However, this “blind man” is persistent, calling out even louder and with greater urgency in his voice. He is strongly determined to NOT be silenced or deterred from getting Jesus’ attention. Interestingly, the crowd’s reaction quickly changes to that of encouragement AFTER Jesus calls for Bartimaeus to come to Him.
Jesus meets this poor “blind man” on the road to Jerusalem, but He is NOW going through Jericho. My question: “Why did Jesus travel to Jericho?” Let’s look at Jericho, from a geographical, biblical, and historical basis, in order to hopefully find the answer.
Jericho is about 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem. This city is believed to be the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world. In ancient times, long before Jesus’ birth, Joshua sent two “spies” into the walled city (Jericho), where they were aided by “Rahab, the harlot” (a prostitute). Because of her assistance, she and her family were spared from injury and death when the Israelites attacked the city. The Israelite army first surrounded the walled city, Jericho, and after seven days of circling the city continuously, with the Ark in tow, the entire Israelite army shouted and the great and strong walls of the city came crumbling down (cf., Joshua 2:1-22).
Jericho was the first major conquest by the Israelites after they crossed the Jordan and entered into the promised-land. However, by Jesus’ time, the “ancient” city of Jericho from Joshua’s time – – was largely abandoned. However, there was a newer, more modern, metropolis called “Jericho”, just to the south of the old city, planned and built by King Herod.
There is a multitude of history, significance, and biblical references to the city of Jericho. The representation of this city being a possible sign of Jesus’ “way” – – being one of “breaking down walls” so that we can “abandon” our old ways – – is an interesting concept to explore at a later date. However, in reality, the reason Jesus traveled through this city with a “sizeable crowd” following Him, is that it was simply the path – – the way – – of getting to Jerusalem.
“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me” (Mark 10:47).
Bartimaeus was determined to get near the ONE person who could meet his need. He knew who Jesus truly was – – the true “Messiah”. He had heard of His fame for spiritual and physical healings. Until now, he had no means of making contact with the “son of David”, a clear reference and title for this prophesized “Messiah”.
How could Jesus be the “son of David”? King David lived approximately 1000 years before Jesus? Hmm, the answer is that Bartimaeus knew Jesus, the “Christ”, and the “Messiah”, is the fulfillment of the prophecy of “David’s seed”:
“When your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom. He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. If he does wrong, I will reprove him with a human rod and with human punishments; but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you. Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-16).
Jesus IS TRULY the promised “Messiah”; He was OF the David’s seed. The genealogy in Luke, chapter 3, gives Jesus’ lineage through His mother, Mary. This form of lineage is uniquely unusual as genealogies of this type were ALWAYS from the father’s side.
However, along with His blood-line through Mary, Jesus is also a descendant of David, by adoption, through Joseph, (a double whammy). Above all though, when Jesus Christ is referred to as the “son of David”, it is referencing to His Messianic title in regard to Jewish Scripture (Old Testament) prophesies. When this “blind man” cried out desperately to the “son of David” for help, the title of honor given to Jesus by this “blind man” declared Bartimaeus’ faith in Jesus truly being the true “Messiah” and healer prophesized in Jewish Scripture.
At the same time Bartimaeus is calling jesus the “son of David”, the crowd was annoyed with the blind man’s persistent shouts for Jesus’ “pity”. Bartimaeus was disturbing their peace, and possibly interrupting Jesus as He talked while walking along the road through Jericho. We need to realize that it was common for a “rabbi” to teach as he walked with others. When the crowd tried to silence the blind man, Bartimaeus overwhelmed them with his emotional and enthusiastic outbursts, thus catching the attention of Jesus in the process.
Others covertly following Jesus, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, also understood what the implications of Jesus’ “way” were when they heard Bartimaeus calling out to Jesus as the “son of David”. Unlike Bartimaeus, who cried out in faith, these people were so “blinded” by their own pride and lack of understanding of Jewish Scriptures, they couldn’t see what the “blind man” could see. In front of them, in physical form, was the promised “Messiah-Savior” they ALL had been waiting for, to come in glory, their entire lives. These “seeing” – – yet still “blind” – – people loathed Jesus, probably because He wouldn’t give the Temple Leaders the honor and worship they believed the Temple leaders deserved; Jesus wasn’t a “YES” man. So, when they heard Bartimaeus hailing Jesus as the Messiah-Savior, they became angry:
“Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent” (Mark 10:48).
Jesus called this begging and “blind man” with His command to be “courageous” in coming to Him. WOW!! How often have I NOT been courageous in my life, when I was “called” by Jesus to do something? How often have I been the one “rebuking” another, not being the humble and begging man asking for Jesus to intercede in my own life?
This poor “blind man” not only responded “courageously”, he “sprang up” in his response to Jesus’ “calling”! Again, how often are the times when my “springs” are tied closed and unable to “spring open” when called upon. I need to remember – – at these times in my life – – that Jesus Christ has the “Midas touch”, and can heal me as well, if I just ask Him:
“Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man replied to him, ‘Master, I want to see’” (Mark 10:51).
And, Jesus’ guarantee is not for a lifetime, it is for ETERNITY!!
“Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Him on the way” (Mark 10:52).
This once blind and now seeing Jewish man, Bartimaeus, was told to follow his “way” upon leaving Jesus’ presence. However, this man decided to follow the “way” of Jesus (verse 52), instead. Now, for me, what is so awesome about this particular word – – “WAY” – – is that Saint Paul later noted that followers of “Christianity” were called “followers of ‘the Way’” as an identity to their Christian faith (cf., Acts 19:1,9,23; 24:22)! All I can say is, “WAY to go Paul!”
Today’s Gospel event reveals something important and significantly relevant about how God interacts with us. Bartimaeus was determined to get Jesus’ attention, and was persistent in the face of opposition. Jesus could have easily ignored or rebuffed him, walking past him instead of stopping FOR him. After all, Bartimaeus was certainly disturbing Jesus’ discourse with His followers. However, Jesus showed that “acting” was more important than “talking”. Jesus “walked the talk”!!
Bartimaeus was in desperate need, AND Jesus was ready (He always IS), not only to empathize with Bartimaeus’ suffering, but also to relieve his torment of blindness as well. You know, a great speaker can command attention and respect, but an individual with a helping hand and a big heart is loved so much more than anyone who talks, but does not follow-up with actions. Saints Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa are prime examples for these great virtues of loving surrender and “servant leadership”.
Jesus speaks well of Bartimaeus for recognizing Him with “eyes of faith”, granting him with physical sight in response to his faith-filled sight. I believe we ALL need to recognize our need for God’s healing grace, and to seek out Jesus Christ, just as Bartimaeus did – – with a persistent faith and trust in Jesus’ goodness and mercy!
When Jesus restored Bartimaeus’ sight, no elaborate action was required on Bartimaeus’ part. Let’s remember that in other “healing stories” from Mark’s Gospel, action was always accompanied with Jesus’ “Words”. Jesus spoke the “Word”, and it happened. Today’s reading is NOT the first time this has happened in Holy Scripture. With His “Word”, water became wine, demons left people, and bread and wine became His true body, blood, soul, and divinity!! Jesus Christ IS the “Word”, and His “Word” IS!! John said it the best:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning WITH God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race” (John 1:1-4).
Jesus Christ – – IS – – the “Word” made flesh!!
It is worthy to note that the success of Jesus’ healing power is usually associated with the faith of the person requesting His help. As an example, it is because of her faith that the woman with the hemorrhage is healed (cf., Mark 5:24-34). When faith is absent, Jesus is “unable” to heal, as seen with His rejection in His home-town of Nazareth (cf., Mark 6:1-6). However, in this single instance in today’s reading, Jesus simply says that Bartimaeus’ “faith” had saved him from the darkness he had lived in for probably years, if not his entire lifetime. Jesus’ “Word” becomes the “IS”:
“’Go your way; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10:52).
Once his sight had been restored, Bartimaeus followed Jesus on His way to Jerusalem, probably witnessing first-hand the Passover, Passion, and Crucifixion events of His “Messiah”.
(Here is a little trivial fact: In Mark’s Gospel, Bartimaeus is the last disciple called by Jesus before He enters Jerusalem.)
Bartimaeus’ words to Jesus prepare us for the final episodes of Mark’s Gospel, which begins with Jesus’ preparation for the Passover and His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As Mark’s Gospel has shown us over the past few Sundays, Jesus will be (and IS) the “Messiah” – – the “Word” – – in a way that will be difficult for many to accept, even today. Why and how? Jesus will show Himself to be the true “Messiah” through His suffering and death.
Today’s Gospel offers us a powerful example of faith and persistence in prayer. Those in the crowd rebuked Bartimaeus for his efforts to attract Jesus’ attention. When silencing him was attempted by the crowd, Bartimaeus called out louder and all the more. He was persistent and bold in his confidence, and Jesus showed mercy on him, doing what Bartimaeus asked of Him. His persistence – – and trusting confidence – – in Jesus’ helping intercession, reminds me of the confidence and trust with which my four children brought me their wants and needs. In this “childlike” faith and trust, we truly can find the proper example of attitude towards God when approaching Him in prayer.
When we pray, Jesus wants us to be courageous, trusting, and confident, knowing He will help us, and, also knowing that we will not allow anyone to keep us from taking our needs to Him in prayer, as in the example of Bartimaeus. So, identify the things you need most from God. Pray a prayer of petition with the confidence that Jesus will hear AND answer your prayer. (He does!!) When praying your prayer of petition, respond to each petition with “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on us.” With confidence and trust, you will get an answer!!
“Lord, I Am Not Worthy Prayer”
(based on Matthew 8:8)