30th Sunday in OT (B)

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October 20, 2021

30th Sunday in OT (B)

MARK 10:46–52

In this week’s gospel, we hear the story of Bartimaeus. People would pass through Jericho on their way to Jerusalem for Passover. As Mark writes, we see that Bartimaeus was a blind beggar who would sit on the roadside.

We can imagine that someone in his position, living in darkness has a lot of fear but Jesus is passing by. There is commotion because there is a large crowd following Him. Bartimaeus has heard the reputation of Jesus and he knows that this man is a healer. He has nothing to lose.

So, he calls out from the depths of his soul to Jesus. What is amazing is that Bartimaeus would have used Jesus’ name in Hebrew, Yeshua. This name literally means ‘God saves’. Bartimaeus therefore calls out to Jesus’ messianic identity. He cries out for mercy.

How often in our lives do we cry out for mercy? There are areas in our hearts where we are in desperate need of mercy and healing. Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus but it is so loud. How could Jesus hear him? There are others around who hear him. This man crying out from the depths of his soul to be pitied by the Saviour.

Sometimes, we consider ourselves far too sophisticated to call out to a saviour. We rationalise it away because very few of us have the humility to bear the depths of our souls in front of other people. As it’s called in Trinidad, ‘our dirty laundry’.

So, Bartimaeus is calling out and the people in the crowd try to shut him down. Sometimes we don’t quite get it, and so we push those who are broken away from Christ instead of bringing them to Christ. Other times, we ourselves feel like we are being silenced, whether it is by family, our own self-assumed identities or a part of our hearts that just doesn’t feel worthy of mercy.

There is a part of our heart that finds it hard to believe that Jesus will come through for us. It’s much easier to believe that He will come through for others. Just not me.

In these spaces in our hearts, the Holy Spirit wishes to come to refute these lies and to assure us of the truth. The truth is Jesus wants us to call out to Him, because He will always come through!

We go back to the roadside and continue begging for approval from those ‘passing by’, but God is calling us to much more.

Bartimaeus does not allow himself to be stifled by those trying to silence him. He cries out all the louder and Jesus hears him. Above all the noise, Jesus hears his call. Jesus hears him and stops because he is not insignificant. You are not insignificant to Christ.

Jesus calls him. Immediately, he runs to Christ. If you recall, we recently heard about the rich man who didn’t have the courage to let his possessions go. But this man who has nothing of his own but his cloak and the change he was given, sprang up leaving all that he owned to the dust.

This was all he had but it was at this one specific moment in his life that God is visiting him, he could see more than any person with sight. He could see that this was a day that began like every other day that wouldn’t end like any other day. And he responds to grace, just as God is calling us to respond to grace.

Jesus asks him a question. “What do you want me to do for you?”. At this point, we can imagine that Bartimaeus’ heart is broken wide open. This is his one chance to ask for what he’s always wanted. “Master, let me see again.” I want to be restored, to be made whole.

Where are you blind in your life? There are many things that can blind us in our lives. They are deep pockets of sorrow that make us sometimes feel ‘there’s no way out of this…’

We often get very comfortable sitting by the roadside. We make friends with our darkness, and we normalise it. This is not normal friends. You are not beggars. We are sons and daughters of God, but often we do not live like that, and we tell ourselves it is not going to change.

Jesus asks us exactly what He asks Bartimaeus. Where is He calling you to restoration, resurrection and freedom? Authentic love. “Go; your faith has saved you.” The Greek word used would be sōzō, which simultaneously means both to save and to heal; a sign of Christ’s salvific mission.

Dear friends, seeing is believing is a lie. Believing is seeing. Jesus wants to free us from all those things to which we are clinging. Will you let Him?

The gospel meditations for October are by members of the Archbishop’s Appeal. The Appeal supports the work of the Catholic Church through humble discipleship, obedience to God and universal love for mankind. The Appeal’s efforts are inspired by faith and guided by the desire to create a strong national culture of harmony and unity. As an agency and as individuals, we are committed to cultivating the moral and spiritual elements of every human being through prayer, service, and the communal will to improve.

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