Vol.5 No.7

Vol.5 No.7

Vol.5 No.7 DoM Gospel Reflection—Mark 10:46-52
Thirtieth Sunday Ordinary Time—October 25, 2015
By Nancy Hollon
Bartimaeus is the last of the healing miracles described in Mark. Each of the three synoptic gospels includes different versions of Jesus, healing the blind near Jericho, on his last journey to Jerusalem.

The gospel of Mark, however, tells of the healing of a man named Bartimaeus, a lowly blind beggar, sitting on the edge of the road. He was considered one of the lowest most deplorable in the society of that day. He was completely dependent on the mercy and generosity of others. How humble he must have been in this inferior and vulnerable state.

Mark uses this story not only to show the power and mercy of Jesus, but he gives us a character who understands who Jesus is and the proper way to respond to him – with faith (wikipedia)

We need to take a look at what has happened in Mark prior to this event. In chapters 8, 9, and 10, on three separate occasions, Jesus predicts his death and resurrection to the apostles. According to Keith Nickle, in his book, the Synoptic Gospels, he explains that Mark uses these passion predictions to show how Jesus was trying to disclose to the disciples his rejection, suffering, death and ultimate resurrection. On all three occasions they fail to understand what Jesus is trying to tell them.

Not only do the apostles refuse to see and believe his mission, they argue among themselves as to who will be the greatest and who will be the most powerful in his earthly kingdom. Jesus asks James and John, “What do you want me to do for you?” We all know their response; they want to sit in power, one on his right, the other on his left. I quote “They do not want a suffering Messiah. They use human standards of greatness.” (Luke T. Johnson) Jesus, however, was not going to Jerusalem, as they believed, to be crowned and placed on an earthly throne. Instead, his crown would be thorns and his throne, a cross.

Mark then tells us the story of Bartimaeus. When he realizes Jesus is approaching he begins to scream for mercy. The crowds ignore him and when he becomes more persistent, they try to quiet him. Is this how we behave today toward the vulnerable in our society? Is it easier to ignore the situation or try to quiet the voices of the helpless? Jesus wants us to be sensitive to the needs of those around us and respond to their call.

Jesus did not ignore Bartimaeus, but asks to see him, at which point, he tosses aside his cloak, his most valuable earthly possession, and comes to Jesus. Again, Jesus asks this question, “What do you want me to do for you?’ He first asked this question to James and John, then to Bartimaeus, and now to us today. “What do you want me to do for you?’ What will our response be? What are we willing to toss aside in order to accept and receive God’s forgiving mercy? Are we blind to what we truly need from Jesus in contrast to what we may want from him?

Bartimaeus response, quite different from the apostles, “I want to see”. He clearly sees and understands that Jesus is the Messiah. Dr. Timothy Carmody, Ph.D., in a lecture series on Mark, tells us this is central to Mark’s gospel. “We are not going to Jerusalem for Jesus to be crowned king but we need to see the Messiah is to suffer. To be a disciple is to be lowly, least, suffer, and serve. Now we are on our way to Jerusalem.”

We see here a blind man who had clear vision. He had a complete belief in Jesus, a wholehearted faith. He humbled himself and was able to receive Jesus healing mercy. Faith with humility seems to be a key ingredient that brought about this clear vision. He didn’t ask for recognition, power or wealth, instead he was willing to follow Jesus, knowing to do so, he would be lowly, last, and a servant to others.

What should this tell us today about how we should live and respond to Jesus and others? Do we know Jesus the Messiah, who came to serve and not be served? Do we prefer respect and prestige or are we willing to serve others without recognition? To do this we must be willing to be respectful of everyone we encounter without regard to the standards set by society.

This gospel could not have come at a more opportune time, as we were able to witness Pope Francis, a man who embodies these qualities. He did not react to, or treat others according to our worldly standards. The homeless, infirmed, incarcerated, children, and politicians were all recognized and treated with the same respect. The most powerful message we could see is the true witness of Pope Francis. Perhaps we should ask Jesus and Each Other, the question Jesus asks us,” What do you want me to do for you?”

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