Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Let us look into the characters of the Gospel today.
1) The Disciples and the crowd. Some of them scolded Bartimaeus and tried to stop him from calling Jesus. They did not want anyone to disrupt their pace and the seeming order they had as they walked with Jesus.
a) He was blind and was sitting at the sidewalk. He must have already heard that Jesus who came from Nazareth taught with authority, unlike the Scribes and Pharisees, and that Jesus could heal infirmities. This made his faith in Jesus alive.
b) He called Jesus by using a powerful title, “Son of David.” He was trying to bring upon himself the powerful name of David’s lineage and God’s promise that a Messiah was to come to bring salvation to the world. By his humble acknowledgement of his weakness, Bartimaeus could allow Jesus to come and serve him.
c) When called, Bartimaeus “threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.” For the people of Palestine, the cloak was the person’s covering under the heat of the sun and in the cold of the night. The cloak was a possession a person simply could not throw or give away. But Bartimaeus took off his cloak, threw it aside, and approached Jesus.
3) We, the People of God, are participants in the work of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not an ordinary book of past events. It is life for the Church. Can we relate with the persons who said, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” Or do we sympathize with those who scolded Bartimaeus and who would not want the Master to be disturbed or who did not want their travel to be disrupted by one like Bartimaeus? He brings to us a picture that there are many people in society who are on the sidewalks of life, marginalized and unattended. They may be in their condition because we have not cared enough, or have been indifferent, or have probably scolded them for their weak disposition or simply have not called them to approach Jesus. It is also possible that we are blinded by our indifference to others, by a scandalous convenience of our lifestyle and affluence in society.
How many times have we scolded our elderly at home because he/she spilled milk or dropped his/her food of the floor? How many times have we scolded, even just in our thoughts, a beggar who showed up at our door at a wrong time: we were eating or resting? How many times have we scolded a child for crying, and we did not even know why he was crying? How many times have we stopped a person from coming into our company just because he was not invited? How many times have we broken the heart of our friends and relatives because we did not listen to them, and all we wanted was to talk? How many times have espouses hurt each other for being rude and arrogant, or simply insensitive and inconsiderate? How many times have we hurt children because we thought we were always right? How many times have children hurt their parents for being offensive and disrespectful?
a) Jesus called Bartimaeus so that he could be free from being marginalized. Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to walk along with him on the road of life, where people who followed Jesus would move towards Jerusalem, where the author of life was to be killed for the life of the world. This was also to prefigure that the call of Jesus is always a call to discipleship, to listen to and learn from Him, so that we can walk in faith on the road towards the New Jerusalem which is Jesus Himself.
b) Jesus asked Bartimaeus what He (Jesus) could do for him. Jesus wanted him to be aware of what he wanted. Bartimaeus would think, if Jesus could heal the sick, make the deaf and mute hear and talk and the lame walk and bring the dead to life, He could also make me see!
Even if God already knew what we needed, He wants us to be aware of what we ask of Him, things that are worthy of Him as our God and King. He can heal us and make us walk, so that we can follow Him on the road to life, and He can also free us from slavery to sin and lead us to eternal life.
c) Jesus sent Bartimaeus off to witness to his people the healing power of God. When Jesus calls us, He does not keep us simply sitting or standing. With the power of His call in our hearts, He sends us to return to our responsibilities and relationships to proclaim that He who walked towards His death courageously, gives life to those who receive Him.
Healing, safety, security and peace are not found in a beautiful and well guarded place or in a fat bank account or in a good economic program. They are found in the Person of Jesus Christ. Only when we acknowledge our weaknesses and need for help and throw away the cloaks of our comfort zones can we approach Jesus, so that He can come, heal and serve us. So we approach Jesus who calls us to celebrate the Eucharist. When we receive Him in Holy Communion, we also accept our neighbors and the marginalized, for we all are the Body of Christ. The letter to the Hebrews tell us: “No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God” (Heb 5:4).