The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 24, 2021
Lectionary Readings: Jer. 31:7-9; Ps. 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5,6; Heb. 5:1-6; Mark. 10:46-52
Theme: To see with faith
Though clearly a miracle story, the gospel narrative on the healing of blind Bartimaeus is also a story of faith. It reminds us of two other healing miracles of Jesus in Mark, that of the woman with the hemorrhage (5:25-34) and the blind man in Bethsaida (8:22-26).
Just as Jesus told Bartimaeus, he had said to the healed woman who had a bleeding problem, “Daughter, your faith has saved you, depart in peace.” (10:52: 5:34). Full of faith and initiative, she pushed her way through the large crowd. But because of the religious barrier of her ritual impurity, she had to come silently from behind Jesus to touch the edge of his clothes: an act she had believed would heal her.
For the blind man in Bethsaida, there was no need to fear the crowd as it was the people themselves who brought him to Jesus for healing. Was this because he was shy, had little or no faith in Jesus? Is this the reason why there was only a partial restoration of his sight after Jesus had spat on his eyes and laid hands on him? He was able to see clearly after Jesus once again laid his hand on his eyes.
In contrast, the healing of blind Bartimaeus was immediate and complete. Jesus did not have to do anything. After hearing Bartimaeus’ answer to his question on what he wished Jesus to do for him, Jesus simply said to him, “Go, Your faith has saved you.”
To recall, Bartimaeus was described as a beggar, seated by the roadside, who had nothing and was a nobody in the eyes of the world. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, Bartimaeus began to shout and said, “Son, of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be silent. But he feared not and shouted out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” And when called by Jesus, he leaped to his feet. His immediate response was like that of the first disciples (Mark 1:16-20; 2:13-14).
The title “Son of David”, like the title “King of the Jews”, is a variant of the title “Messiah” or “Christ.” According to an article in My Jewish Learning.com, the concept of a messiah who will usher in the redemption of the Jewish people has roots in the Bible. But there are many images of whom or what a ‘messiah’ is. Among these are of a child who grows up to rule in peace (Isaiah 9:5), a descendant of David and judge (Isaiah 11:1-4), a great warrior (Numbers 24:17), and skilled judge and blighted beggar (Babylonian Talmud). For some Jews, there is no messiah but a ‘messianic age’. In all, to date for Jews, the messiah or the messianic age has yet to come. For Christians, Jesus is the Messiah who has come and will come again.
The big lesson from today’s Gospel and related to miracle stories is that miracles can happen to anyone – even if you just let others bring you to Jesus; even if you have to be silent about your faith; and even if you have nothing and are ‘a nobody’. But the immediate and complete miracle goes to those who like Bartimaeus strongly believe and who call on Jesus for mercy, pray and tell him what is most needed; and boldly proclaim their faith against all odds, and accept Jesus as the messiah and follow him.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. What can you do to see, proclaim and live your faith better? 2. What can you do to bring others to Jesus and deepen their faith?
Bibliography: Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary (Massachusetts, 2002); Harrington, Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Mark (Minnesota, 2002); https://www.myjewishlearning.com/
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Minerva Generalao, Philippines, Bat Kol Alumna July 2014