Catholic Productions For the Mass Readings on the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B),
Dr. Brant Pitre discusses the persistence of Blind Bartimaeus as Jesus was passing by to have Jesus heal him. As Dr. Pitre covers, Bartimaeus not only expresses the Messianic identity of Jesus — “Jesus, Son of David…” — but this scene also shows both how faith is efficacious — it has the capacity to actually do something — and how Jesus is enacting a New Exodus, the one that was foretold in the prophets. Along the way, Dr. Pitre will also discuss the Return of the Blind in the New Exodus as discussed in Jeremiah 31, which is the first reading for this Sunday’s Mass readings, linking the Gospel reading with the Old Testament reading.
Background on the Gospel Reading Mark 10:46-52 Jesus restores sight to the blind man, Bartimaeus
Today we continue to read from Mark’s Gospel. In this Gospel, we find evidence of Jesu’ fame in the sizable crowd that accompanies him as he journeys to Jerusalem. Jesus’ reputation as a healer has preceded him. When the blind man, Bartimaeus, hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, he calls out to him, asking for his pity.
When Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus, the crowd around him tries to silence him. Yet Bartimaeus persists, calling out more loudly and with greater urgency. He will not be silenced or deterred from getting Jesus’ attention. We notice how quickly the crowd’s reaction changes when Jesus calls for Bartimaeus. Those who sought to quiet him now encourage him.
When Jesus restores Bartimaeus’s sight, no elaborate action is required. (In other healing stories in Mark’s Gospel, actions accompany Jesus’ words). In this instance, Jesus simply says that Bartimaeus’s faith has saved him. Throughout Mark’s Gospel, the success of Jesus’ healing power has often been correlated with the faith of the person requesting Jesus’ help. For example, it is because of her faith that the woman with the hemorrhage is healed. When faith is absent, Jesus is unable to heal; we see this after his rejection in Nazareth.
Once his sight has been restored, Bartimaeus follows Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. In Mark’s Gospel, Bartimaeus is the last disciple called by Jesus before he enters Jerusalem. Bartimaeus hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, but he calls out to Jesus using words of faith—“Son of David.” Many in Jesus’ time believed that the anticipated Jewish Messiah would be a descendent of King David. Bartimaeus’s words prepare us for the final episodes of Mark’s Gospel, which begin with Jesus’ preparation for the Passover and his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As Mark has shown us in our readings over the past few Sundays, however, Jesus will be the Messiah in a way that will be difficult for many to accept. Jesus will show himself to be the Messiah through his suffering and death.
ARE YOU BLINDED BY CITIES OF SIN? CYCLE B ORDINARY TIME WEEK 30 by Bishop Robert Barron October 24th 2021
Friends, in today’s Gospel, we hear the marvelous story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus—an icon of tremendous power and a sacred picture of the spiritual life and the process of salvation. We all find ourselves, in our need of Christ, in this image, as our own blindness distorts our vision of spiritual reality and the meaning of life.
Our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah treats of a theme that is basic throughout the Bible: the motif of the return from exile. Like two great hinges on which the Old Testament turns are the stories of Exodus and Exile. Israel finds itself enslaved in Egypt, but God liberates the people; later, the northern tribes are carried off by the Assyrians; and later still, the southern tribes are carried off by the Babylonians. But exile was also a kind of spiritual metaphor, a trope for having wandered far from the Lord.
Gospel: Mark 10:46-52 Go; your faith has saved you
As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’ And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Courage,’ they said ‘get up; he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbuni,’ the blind man said to him ‘Master, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you.’ And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you with a faith that never seeks to test you. I trust in you, hoping to learn to accept and follow your will, even when it does not make sense to the way that I see things. I love you Lord. May my love for you and those around me be similar to the love you have shown to me.
Petition: Christ Jesus, grant me the gift of faith.
1. The Lord Helps Those Who Help Themselves: Bartimaeus has character. As a beggar, he’s sharp enough to realise that it’s not good business to annoy the people he needs to beg from. Yet when Jesus passes nearby, he refuses to be silenced even when he’s rebuked by his “customers”. He’s driven by the certainty that Jesus can change his lot in life. Nobody, therefore, is going to keep Bartimaeus from his goal of meeting Christ. Do I have a similar kind of certitude that proximity to Our Lord is a necessity for me, that only he can heal my wounds and keep me on the right path towards heaven? Do I make sure nothing separates me from him?
“Jesus, Help Me!” Pope-Emeritus Benedict encourages us to look to the merciful heart of the Lord, “In our difficulties, problems and temptations, we must not simply engage in a theoretical reflection — from whence do they come? — but must react positively, invoking the Lord, maintaining a living contact with the Lord. Beyond that, we must cry out the name of Jesus, ‘Jesus, help me!’ And we may be sure that he listens to us, as he is near to those who seek him. Let us not be discouraged; rather, let us run with ardour…and we too will reach life, Jesus, the Lord” (Angelus, February 8, 2006).
The Gift of Faith: The faith of the blind beggar was what allowed Christ to cure him. Faith is not something that we can earn or acquire through willpower or sheer effort. Faith is a gift. This gift must be sought in humble and constant prayer. We have all received this gift through baptism, but it is a gift that needs to grow. “Lord, increase my faith!”
Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord! Like the sight you gave to Bartimaeus, you have given me so many graces and special favours, beginning with the amazing gift of my Catholic faith. From the heart I thank you for so much love.
Resolution: I will pray with perseverance and trust for those virtues I most need, especially for the gift of faith to see Christ acting in my daily life.