Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52
As we brace ourselves for the return of standard time next week, and the ever shortening daylight hours these coming months, to which we must add the annual stress of crazy consumerism parading itself as our holiday season, we might be excused for feeling a bit down at this time of year. That is clearly not how everybody feels. I should speak only for myself. But I know I’m not the only one affected this way.
That being the case, I am so very grateful for the Church’s reinforcement at this time of year. The spiritual reinforcement of feasts these next weeks, which the Church serves us, is a tonic for the soul. All Saints Day and All Souls Day next week, even our national Thanksgiving Day which the Church celebrates, and the joy of the Advent Season, with those feasts of Mary that precede the feast of her Divine Son’s birth and the complete octave of his nativity, all this is a rich fare to strengthen and comfort our minds and hearts.
Today’s mass, I feel, anticipates all that is ahead, with these moving Scripture readings we have been given to meditate and pray on today. Please don’t ever leave it only to the priest to give you his own reflections each Sunday. Trust our Lord, and pray to the Holy Spirit to enrich your own heart also, with whatever time you can spare to pray over the Word of God which the Church provides each week.
In our readings today, we feel the joy of the prophet Jeremiah, at the prospect of the exiled Jews returning home again to the holy land after seventy years in a foreign land. His reference to the blind and the lame in their midst is what ties the first reading with our Gospel. In this Gospel Jesus works another miracle of healing, the instant cure of a blind man, and the Church suggests that we see this as a further fulfillment of the prophesy of Jeremiah, made in a way that the prophet himself never dreamt might occur. God himself, come among us in person, fulfilling the prophet’s words. He has pitched his tent among us…full of grace and truth.
And so we see the joy of Jeremiah magnified a hundredfold in the exultant joy of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar. Jeremiah proclaimed, The Lord delivers his people, the remnant of Israel…For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.
The drama that the evangelist Saint Mark imbues this account of the beggar’s restoration of his sight, fills the story with added joy. He kept calling out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” I have to stop and reflect here. Is this how I pray? Do I have any of Bartimaeus’ insistence, his desperation, his great hope?
What did Bartimaeus ask for? Master, I want to see. The pathos of those few words! That’s all the man said. But what volumes of meaning lay behind those simple words. I want to see. How do those words of the beggar strike me? What stirs in my heart, if I make this beggar’s words my won? Lord, how I want to see.
And Jesus simply says, Your faith has saved you. With that, the man saw. Jesus only said, Go your way. But Bartimaeus then followed him on the way. He made Jesus’ way his way too. Because he could see now. This is the kind of vision our hearts so deeply long for. Lord, I want to see.