30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 31:7-9 II:
46 And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimae'us, a blind beggar, the son of Timae'us, was sitting by the roadside.
47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
49 And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; rise, he is calling you."
50 And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus.
51 And Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Master, let me receive my sight."
52 And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
- (v.46) The end of the road is near. Jericho is 15 miles from Jerusalem, where Jesus will enter into his passion and death. Jericho at the time would be crowded with pilgrims on their way to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem.
- (v.47-48) Bartimeus is persistent and determined to catch Jesus' attention. It is a desperate desire combined with great faith in Jesus as the one who will save him.
- (v.47) Bartimeus addresses Jesus as "Son of David", a title for the Messiah, as has been prophesized in the Old Testament. Mark wants to emphasize that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the one who will liberate Israel.
- (v.48) Why do people scold this blind man? It is customary for a rabbi or distinguished teacher to teach the crowd while on his journey to Passover celebration. The crowd following Jesus may be offended by Bartimeus' cry drowning out what they are trying to listen to. If so, then they do not understand Jesus, who is always merciful.
- (v.50) Jesus calls Bartimeus. His response is immediate and enthusiastic! He did not say "Wait until I have done this or that." Instead, he jumped up and came without aid. In answering the call of Jesus, Bartimeus "throws aside his cloak". For a beggar, the cloak may be his bed at night, it may be what he uses to collect the coins he begs. The beggar throws aside what little securities he has.
- (v.51) "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus, and probably everyone else there, knows the man's need. In asking the question, Jesus confirms his (and our) freedom to choose.
- (v.52) "Go your way." When the man can see, he chooses to go Jesus' way.
One Main Point
Bartimeus, the blind beggar, is a model for all disciples. He is singularly focused on Jesus as the source of his salvation. He rejoices when he is called, throwing away whatever he holds dear, in faith that what Jesus gives is worth much more.
- The blind man is not vague in his request to Jesus. He knows what he needs--to see. What do I need spiritually? I ask God to help me in my self-examination.
- I contrast the response of this blind man, and that of the rich man in Mark 17-22. Jesus asks the rich man to sell what he has and give to the poor. The rich man walks away sad, unwilling to do as Jesus asks. In the Gospel today, the blind man throws away what little he has. What is Jesus asking me to do in my daily life? Does my response resemble that of the blind man, or the rich man? Which is my security, "my cloak?" I ask God for FAITH, to trust him.
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community