A Reflection for 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B).
Jeremiah 31:7-9 – Hebrews 5:1-6 – Mark 10:46-52.
Today we celebrate the Lord who feels for us in our weakness (Heb 5:2) because He is one like us. Moreover, He comforts us in our weakness by His intervening work of restoration (cf. the 1st reading). The Lord knows about us, He feels for us in our human weaknesses that include lack of vision and direction, and He restores our sight. How joyful it is to know that God cares for you and for me and for each and every one of us!
The 1st and 2nd readings give us a picture of our caring and loving God. The Lord Jesus is the high priest who knows about us and who understands our individual frailties. We can draw personal lessons from the story of the blind man Bartimaeus in the Gospel reading.
Bartimaeus was a man who never gave up. In his blindness, Bartimaeus did not give up on living. He continued striving to make the best out of his life through begging until he encountered Jesus on the way. When he encountered the Lord, he prayed for the gift of sight. He asked Jesus for what he thought he needed most. Blindness here symbolizes a bad and depressing condition in life. ‘Blindness’ stands for the worst of experiences we endure. ‘Blindness’ can take the form of physical blindness, or of a health deficiency, or of a psychological or emotional problem (like depression), or of a financial/economic difficulty, and so on. The character of Bartimaeus is an example to us that WE SHOULD NEVER GIVE UP. When we find ourselves in any trouble or worry in life, we should seek help rather than simply give up.
Let’s think about the crowd around Bartimaeus in the story, and then about the people we have around us. While Bartimaeus didn’t give up, he needed the assistance of the people around him. We can see that there were three major groups of people in his life. First of all, he had those who gave him the information he needed. Then he had people who discouraged him. And thirdly, the had those who were supportive of him. We may experience people from each of these three groups at some time in our lives – those from whom we continually receive the information we need; and then, when we are making efforts to better our lives with the information we have received from the first group, we may have people around us who discourage and intimidate us, like those in the second group; and then we have those who encourage and support us, like the third group.
Whichever group we happen to find ourselves surrounded by at the time, we are encouraged to keep our faith firm and our hopes high like Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus is an example to us of what our faith and trust in Jesus ought to be. He had firm confidence in the Person of Jesus, whom he had learnt about from the crowd, and he was not put off by abuse from people who regarded him as a nobody and told him to shut up. There were also supportive people who encouraged him to go see the Lord. His persistence in shouting to Jesus and waving his arms to attract His attention was a form of prayer. Bartimaeus was saying, ‘Son of David, have pity on me” and he got Jesus’ attention. He got from the Lord Jesus his heart’s desire – the restoration of his sight.
When Bartimaeus heard Jesus call him, he threw off his cloak. The cloak had been important to him for his personal protection and well-being as a blind man, but Bartimaeus deliberately left it behind so that he could meet Jesus promptly. Despite his vulnerability, he was ready to come before the Lord, leaving his comfort behind, leaving anything that could slow him down from answering the Lord’s call quickly. The cloak symbolizes anything that can hinder us in answering God’s call of salvation. It symbolizes the sacrifices we need to make to meet Jesus, and also the things which we need to let go.
Dear brothers and sisters, the blindness we have might be spiritual rather than physical. We might be unable to “see” spiritually if we are guilty of hatred or pride or jealousy, because sins like these prevent us from seeing goodness in other people. Spiritual blindness can present in terms of a lack of a sense of justice, it can show itself in greed, and it can show itself in all forms of insatiability regarding worldly goods. The difficulty is that people don’t tend to recognize that they have “spiritual blind spots”! Each one of us needs to devote a lot of time to introspection in order to recognize where our blind spots are and in which areas we are suffering from spiritual blindness. When we give time to doing this, our spiritual sight improves. I am sure that, armed with recognition of our weaknesses, and with purposefully coming closer and closer to Jesus, the light of God shines in our darkness, enables us to “see” visually and spiritually the state of our soul, and heals us from spiritual blindness.
The prayer of Bartimaeus, ‘Lord, that I may see,’ should be constantly on our lips. Certainly, Jesus hears and answers us, and He knows what our individual struggles are even before we beg Him for help. May we hear Him saying to us in reply, “Go; your faith has saved you.” Amen.