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Healing of Blind Bartimaeus

Reflection for Sunday, October 24
Sunday Readings:  Jeremiah 31:7-9, Hebrews 5:1-6 & Mark 10: 46 – 52
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel (Mk. 10: 46 – 52), Jesus restores sight to the blind man, Bartimaeus. In this Gospel, we find evidence of Jesus' fame in the sizable crowd that accompanies him as He journeys to Jerusalem. Jesus' reputation as a healer has preceded Him. When the blind man, Bartimaeus, hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, he calls out to Him, asking for his pity.

When Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus, the crowd around him tries to silence him. Yet Bartimaeus persists, calling out more loudly and with greater urgency. He will not be silenced or deterred from getting Jesus' attention. We notice how quickly the crowd's reaction changes when Jesus calls for Bartimaeus. Those who sought to quieten him now encourage him.

The blind Bartimaeus gives this reply when Jesus asks Him, "What do you want me to do for you?” And in response to the faith of the blind man, Jesus gives Him sight. When Bartimaeus is able to see, he follows Jesus on the way. His following of Jesus is the result of the grace that he has received.

When Jesus restores Bartimaeus's sight, no elaborate action is required. (In other healing stories in Mark's Gospel, actions accompany Jesus' words). In this instance, Jesus simply says that Bartimaeus's faith has saved him.

Once his sight has been restored, Bartimaeus follows Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. In Mark's Gospel, Bartimaeus is the last disciple called by Jesus before he enters Jerusalem. Many in Jesus' time believed that the anticipated Jewish Messiah would be a descendent of King David. Bartimaeus's words prepare us for the final episodes of Mark's Gospel, which begin with Jesus' preparation for the Passover and His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

Throughout Mark's Gospel, the success of Jesus' healing power has often been correlated with the faith of the person requesting Jesus' help. For example, it is because of her faith that the woman with the hemorrhage is healed. When faith is absent, Jesus is unable to heal; we see this after his rejection in Nazareth.

How often we too are blind – may not be physically but morally and spiritually. We are blind to the many graces that God bestows on us every day. We are blind to the ways of righteousness laid out for us by God. Let us accept our blindness and pray that the Lord gives us back our sight.

Let us ask: "Jesus, Master make me see," and then follow the light of Christ.

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