October 24, 2009

Blind Bartimaeus

Unfortunately, I don't have a real homily to post this morning. It's the pastor's weekend to give the financial report at the end of the Masses, so I'm only called upon for the brevis homilia. Looking into my files I notice that the last time old Bartimaeus came around, when I was just beginning my diaconate, I must have had the weekend off from preaching as well. God only knows if I will still be walking the earth or where I will find myself on the thirtieth Sunday per annum in 2012, but maybe then I'll finally have the chance to preach on this beautiful gospel.

St. Mark's presentation of blind Bartimaeus is full of wonderful ironies. Of course there is the classic irony of the blind person being the one who can actually see; after several episodes in which the disciples address Jesus with incomplete titles--e.g. master, teacher, rabbi--this blind beggar finally calls upon Jesus with all of his saving and royal dignity: "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

In their arrogance and presumption, James and John approached Jesus and told him, "We want you do for us whatever we ask of you." Now Jesus addresses Bartimaeus in the same way: "What do you want me to do for you?" An authentic encounter with Jesus, i.e. prayer, always becomes an encounter with the desires of the heart. If our desires are distorted we can expect, like James and John, to receive a jarring challenge in response. If our heart is in the right place we can also expect to hear the words Jesus gives back to Bartimaeus: "Go your way: your faith has made you well."

The end of the healing experience matter as well. Right away the newly sighted Bartimaeus follows Jesus "on the way." Here we see the difference between Christianity and the spirituality of the world. A worldly spirituality offers healing so that we might enjoy ourselves. The end of being healed in Christ is discipleship; we are restored in Christ so that we might follow him on his Way.

4 comments:

4narnia said...

you're right, Fr. C! - this Gospel from St. Mark is a beautiful one and is a great inspiration for us who follow Jesus. for a wordly person, the answer to Jesus' question, "what do you want me to do for you?" might be answered with a whole list of things they want. but, for us, that same question of Jesus',"what do you want me to do for you?," needs to be responded to with deep faith, which is what i think Bartimaeus had. we need to "see," not just with our eyes, but with our whole being(mind, body, heart & soul) if we really want to follow Jesus. the song "Day by Day" from GODSPELL comes to mind. i'm not sure if i have the words exactly right, but this is whst we should always pray for: "to see Thee(Jesus) more clearly; to follow Thee (Jesus) more nearly; to love Thee (Jesus) more dearly-day by day!" PEACE! ~tara t~

4narnia said...

you're right, Fr. C! - this Gospel from St. Mark is a beautiful one and is a great inspiration for us who follow Jesus. for a wordly person, the answer to Jesus' question, "what do you want me to do for you?" might be answered with a whole list of things they want. but, for us, that same question of Jesus',"what do you want me to do for you?," needs to be responded to with deep faith, which is what i think Bartimaeus had. we need to "see," not just with our eyes, but with our whole being(mind, body, heart & soul) if we really want to follow Jesus. the song "Day by Day" from GODSPELL comes to mind. i'm not sure if i have the words exactly right, but this is whst we should always pray for: "to see Thee(Jesus) more clearly; to follow Thee (Jesus) more nearly; to love Thee (Jesus) more dearly-day by day!" PEACE! ~tara t~

ben in denver said...

Yesterday I went to a special mass at the cathedral celebrated in thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Jeanne Jugan. The Little Sisters of the Poor have run a home in Denver since the 20s, and this also served as an opportunity for the Archdiocese to express our gratitude to them. Never short for words, your brother, our Archbishop, preached a homily about how this Gospel is fulfilled daily in our midst in the work of the Little Sisters.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to St.Bartimeus(--for I'm sure he is a saint with God in Heaven)for his wonderful intercession on my behalf when I beseeched him to obtain help for me a few years ago when I was developing a serious eye condition which threatened .my sight. I persevered in asking(as Bartimeus,himself would have done)and had an amazing answer to prayer, beyond belief. I'll always be humbly grateful and continue to thank him . Cecily.