When, in our lives, does Jesus pass by?

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 31:7 - 9

Thus says the LORD: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng. They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.

Hebrews 5:1 - 6

Brothers and sisters: Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: You are my son: this day I have begotten you; just as he says in another place: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:46 - 52

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me." And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me." Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you." He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. 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." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

It is not difficult to imagine the deplorable condition of living out one’s life totally on the charity of others. Bartimaeus’ situation was even worse for he was also blind. Life passed by him day in and day out in its routine of begging and endless waiting. Then one day Jesus passed by and Bartimaeus’ life was changed. Today’s Gospel reading was one of the many healing stories of Jesus but this time the focus was largely on Bartimaeus himself.

Bartimaeus, though blind, was alert of Jesus’ coming. Despite his social disadvantage and his physical constraint, he did not give in to the crowd who attempted to silence him. He would not let them deprive him of this opportune chance to get help. He unrelentingly overcame all the hindrances in order to catch Jesus’ attention. He reacted not only enthusiastically but also confidently when being summoned to meet Jesus. With a strong faith in Him, he abandoned his cloak (his sole possession to catch handouts from passersby) for he was certain that both his physical and economic status would be changed. In other word, he anticipated a transformation. Bartimaeus asked the right thing, a request fully consistent with his problem (that he may see again). Compare with the request of James and John (Mk 10:36) who asked for power and honor, this simple quest for restored sight is justifiable, seeking no special privilege.

Dear friends: when, in our lives, does Jesus pass by? Are we alert of that? Have we missed all those given chances unknowingly or negligently? Do we strive to overcome any obstacle that impedes us to get to Jesus and ask Him for help? Do we have Bartimaeous’ perseverance? Do we sometimes, like the crowd, inhibit others to get to Jesus on the assumption of self righteousness or self rightfulness by putting our own needs to Jesus before them? What do we expect when we find Jesus? Are we bold enough to cast off our old selves when He calls us? Are we willing to be transformed and do we ask for the right things?

Bartimaeous won Jesus ‘praise for his faith and was rewarded with what he wanted. But the most commendable thing that Bartimaeous did, right after gaining his sight, was to follow Jesus “on the way”—– the way to Jerusalem, the way to our Lord’s passion and death. Do we give thanks in words only when our requests are granted or like Bartimaeous, put it into action as Jesus’ true followers, and accompany Him “on the way” for better and for worse?

Although Jesus, being surrounded by His disciples and a large crowd, was ready to leave yet He “stood still” when attending Bartimaeous’ cry. He will do the same for us when our cries are earnest and persistent, when our requests are humble and honest and most of all, when our faith in Him is strong and unwavering.

Posted: October 25, 2015

May Tam

May Tam, Bachelor of Social Science (University of Hong Kong), Master of Theological Studies (University of Toronto)

Other Sunday Reflections

The Catholic Church and Catholicity
When the Catholic Church opens her arms to welcome all peoples, she does so not only because of charity, important as it is in Jesus’ teaching, it’s also because of… Continue Reading >
“Abide in me as I abide in you.”
From Jesus the Vine comes the natural outflow of life Continue Reading >
What our eyes cannot see, our heart perceives and understands
The Spirit in us; the same Spirit promised by Jesus and given to us through the sacrament of confirmation, sharpens all our senses, and most importantly our heart, to “taste… Continue Reading >