30th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year B.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Enlightened to Follow Christ.”
The first reading describes the journey of the ‘blind’ people of Israel from slavery to freedom. God himself is their guide.
The second reading contains words of consolation for those who, after receiving the ‘light’ of Christ, follow the Master along the road: he is our travelling companion in life who can understand our weaknesses.
The Gospel episode of the healing of Bartimaeus has a lot to teach us about the ‘light’ that the Christian receives when meeting Christ in Baptism. It is in the Sacrament of Baptism that the eyes of men and women are opened; that is where through the Holy Spirit they begin to understand what it means to follow Christ.
Let us get one step closer to the kingdom this week. Include someone who is normally left behind by inviting them to lunch, to Church or into the conversation or activity from which they have often been excluded.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.”
Jeremiah the prophet foretold of the time when God would visit his people in a special way. The restoration is described in terms of the return of a great caravan of God’s people to Jerusalem from their place of exile. The extraordinary characteristic of the caravan is that it is composed of the weaker members of society, the ones who have a special claim on God’s favour.
The prophet begins by announcing good news. God is about to work a marvellous thing: he will allow the people of Israel, who have been in exile in Nineveh for about 100 years, to return to their land. After a generation of lack of freedom and loss, everyone is going home.
The returnees will not, of course, be the same people, but their sons and daughters, nephews and nieces who were born far from their Jerusalem home will have the opportunity to start anew. Jeremiah sees the blind and lame, those most likely to be left behind, as being brought back in the midst of the people. No-one will be counted as unworthy or unvalued. Pregnant women and those with small children will be part of the stream of those moving homeward. Those with special needs will be welcome on this journey. The Lord will personally smooth the road so that no one will stumble along the way.
This group of exiles, who find it so hard to pull out of their sad condition, move towards liberation and set out on the long journey home, represent all those who God calls from slavery of sin to a new life. How can we abandon certain deplorable habits that enslave us? How can we once more turn to what the Gospel teaches? Like many in our communities, we are spiritually weak, lame and blind, and we find it difficult not only to move, but also even to see the path that the Lord wants us to follow. There is every reason to despair if we rely on ourselves to overcome our fragility. The prophet reminds us that God takes particular care of those who cannot walk alone.
In the last part of the reading, the author describes the return of the prisoners, which he compares to the Exodus from Egypt. He promises, however, that they will cross the desert without the difficulties that their ancestors experienced.
Christians read this journey now as a forerunner of the road to the ‘kingdom’. We have the living water of baptism to quench our thirst along the way on our journey of faith. It is an arduous and exacting journey, but also one that gives us much joy and satisfaction. We have an obligation to help those who are weak and handicapped, and to those who such movement is difficult and painful. We need to keep pace with the weak, not with the strong among us.
The Psalm is a pilgrim song sung in Jerusalem at the ‘Feast of the Tabernacles’. It praises God for his past goodness in bringing his people back from a distant land, and asks him to show his goodness once more by providing rain for a good harvest.
The author recalls the characteristics of the priests who offered sacrifices in the Temple. They, he says, were chosen by God; they could not take on this honour without being called by the Lord, as Aaron was. They were men, not angels, since only the one who has experienced human frailty can understand the weakness and sinfulness of his brothers and sisters and feel compassion.
Jesus had both characteristics of the priests. He did not assume high priesthood by himself, it was given to him by the Father; he was also human, who underwent the experience of suffering and temptation, and so he can relate to and feel compassion for our frailty.
Sitting in the glory seat does not make a person glorious, but simply a servant chosen to be there, for God’s greater good. Jesus received the role of eternal high priest at God’s decree alone. If Jesus does not presume to glorify himself, we walk on very uncertain ground when we seek glory for ourselves.
The first reading prepares us for the Gospel reading and the realisation of Jeremiah’s prophecy of the coming of Jesus. In the context of the Apostle’s misunderstanding of Jesus’ kingship, the humble request of Bartimaeus (for sight, rather than princely honour) shows that he, rather than the Apostles, understands the true meaning of Jesus’ authority.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is still on the way to Jerusalem with his disciples, who are in a state of fear. Three times he has told them that he is going to die there but they did not really understand him or wanted to understand him. They could not contemplate their lives without Jesus present with them.
At Jericho just before entering Jerusalem, Jesus meets Bartimaeus, a blind man, who, in spite of the crowd, makes his way to Jesus. When he is cured of his blindness he sees and without hesitation decides to follow Jesus along the road to Jerusalem and to be with Jesus in his Passion, Death and Resurrection.
When Bartimaeus first starts crying out to Jesus to have pity on him the crowd scolds him and tries to shut him up. When Jesus stops and calls him, the crowd encourages him to go to Jesus. First they hinder him and then they help him to meet Jesus.
Crowds are easily manipulated; the ease with which the crowd changes its mind is going to be exploited later on by the religious leaders. The same crowd that is so much pro-Jesus that the religious leaders, who had been afraid of laying their hands on him, will finally be manipulated so that they shout for his death. In a crowd we can be easily influenced to act against what we truly believe. The changing attitude of the crowds in today’s Gospel leads us to ask whether we are helping others to meet Jesus or is our way of living an obstacle to them?
The cry “Rabbuni, let me see” is the cry of not only Bartimaeus, but is also the cry of the disciples of Jesus and all of us who read and want to live the Gospel today. Only Jesus is capable of entering into our blindness and letting us see what he is showing us by his life, that a new time has begun.
The healing of Bartimaeus has led to active discipleship. The disciples, together with the crowd, were following Jesus but they were rather apprehensive of going up to Jerusalem with him (Mk 10:32). Now, here is one new disciple, who, by his courage, challenges their fear. One person who has been given a new vision and lives it with courage can sometimes change the whole life of the community.
When God gives us new insights, we are not meant to keep them for ourselves or boast about them. All healing, all gifts are given, not for our personal good only, but to strengthen and benefit the whole community.
The healing in today’s Gospel takes place as a result of the ‘Prayer of Lamentation’. That prayer expresses the pain and the faith of Bartimaeus; he believed in a God that pays attention. Bartimaeus focused on Jesus, ignoring all other advice. He gave his undivided attention to Jesus, and Jesus returned the compliment.
If we have been brought up to believe that the religious response to suffering should be silence and passivity, then we will find the Prayer of Lamentation almost a subversive act. But the loss of that prayer is the loss of the language of our suffering, the loss of faith that desires to speak honestly to God.
When Jesus reaches the end of his road, he will use the Prayer of Lamentation in the garden of Gethsemane. There, on the ground, he will find a language for his own pain and fear. The Good News is that the Father hears that prayer of Jesus. Lamenting is not a useless exercise; it is a prayer that reaches the heart of God.
Does your faith enable you to look at things differently from non-Christians? The reaction of Bartimaeus’ healing was to follow Christ along the road. By our baptism we have been healed and have received the light of Christ. What is our reaction? To follow our Lord and Saviour and be a light for others along the road or do we follow the values of the world?
Follow the example of the blind man. Get up today and ask Jesus,
“Master, I want to see.”
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. … The people of Israel had endured approximately 100 years in exile in Nineveh. God’s grace had been shown to exiles that had survived the Assyrian wilderness. How many years have we been in our own wilderness by our self-imposed exile and how well have we spiritually survived? We need to open up our hearts to God’s grace; when we stray he calls us back out of the wilderness.
Mon. … God’s grace calls us to our liberation. Today we need to set out on our long journey back home. Many of us may still be spiritually weak, lame and blind from our exile. We may find it difficult to walk and see the ‘way’ the Lord wishes us to follow. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that if we have faith and trust in the Lord, we will not walk alone.
Tues. … The journey along the narrow road to the ‘kingdom’ can be a demanding and formidable one with many tempting ‘short-cuts’ along the ‘way’. We have the living water of our baptism to quench our thirst along the ‘way’, we have the word of God to strengthen and sustain us on the ‘way’. As Christians, we have an obligation to help those brothers and sisters who are spiritually weak and handicapped to carry the burden of their Crosses.
Wed. … In the second reading in Hebrews we are taught a valuable lesson in humility. Jesus received the role of ‘Eternal High Priest’ by God’s decree alone. Jesus did not glorify himself but chose instead to be a servant for God’s greater good. When we seek to glorify ourselves are we not impersonating the ‘one’ who fell from God’s favour? Pride is the embryo of greed and reverence of self, which can lead to sin and destruction. God’s will and our love for others must always be first in our lives; pride prevents it and blocks off God’s grace.
Thur. … In today’s reading we see in the Gospel how easily crowds can be manipulated. How easily are we influenced and controlled by our peer groups, business associates and friends? Do we follow the trendsetters and celebrities even if their actions conflict with the teachings of the Gospel for fear of a loss of image in our social circles? Do we allow the values of the world to become obstacles and barriers to our faith and to God?
Frid. … When we become overwhelmed by impediments and stumbling blocks to our faith let us cry out like Bartimaeus -“Rabbuni let me see!” This is a cry for help for any follower of Jesus who wants to truly live the Gospel. Jesus will cure our blindness and show us through his ‘living word’ the ‘way’ to God’s kingdom.
Sat. … When Jesus cries out in the Garden of Gethsemane in a Prayer of Lamentation, he finds a language for his pain and fear. When we cry out to God in trust and in faith, it is a prayer that reaches the heart of God.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, we praise and thank You for giving us the ‘Light’ of Christ to guide us in our spiritual blindness. Strengthen our faith to accept Your covenant and grant us Your ‘gift of love’ to love one another so that we may truly love You. May we learn to be as humble as little children and to always do Your will.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.