SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION FROM VATICAN RADIO

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Translated and summarized from the homily by Fr Fabio Rosini

October 24th 2021. Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

GOSPEL Mark 10:46-52

Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

 

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

 

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GOSPEL Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,
sat by the roadside begging.
On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out and say,
"Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But he kept calling out all the more,
"Son of David, have pity on me."
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
"Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you."
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?"
The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see."
Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you."
Immediately he received his sight
and followed him on the way.

The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

 

SUMMARY OF HOMILY

 

1. This Gospel demonstrates the struggle involved in prayer

This Gospel recounts the final event before Jesus enters the holy city of Jerusalem. The first reading from Jeremiah speaks of the pathway that the people of God must follow before they return to their own land. The blind, the lame, those expecting children, will all return in great numbers and will not stumble on their way to being restored. Jesus too is following a pathway from the cursed city of the Old Testament (Jericho) to the holy city, where he will restore all things. As we shall see in this Gospel passage, it will be a blind man who will end up following Jesus along the way, just as Jeremiah had prophesised. Bartimaeus (which means the “son of Timaeus) calls upon the Son of David. Eventually he will be healed and will follow Jesus, but - in between - there is the struggle of prayer. He calls out to the Lord, but the crowd tells him to be quiet. All of us experience this struggle. Exterior voices of mundanity and internal voices of doubt all tell us that prayer is useless.

 

2. Bartimaeus’ prayer arises from his deepest desire to live in a more profound sense

The great strength of Bartimaeus is that he is not content to remain on the margins of life earning a few coins to help him to survive. What gives us the power to pray is the desire to live in a fuller sense, the awareness of the deficiencies of life as we now live it. Bartimaeus overcomes these obstacles with his tenacity. Prayer must not solely be done out of obligation but must arise in the depths of our hearts. In the profundity of our hearts we want to live, to see again, to escape mediocrity.

 

3. Our hearts were made to encounter God. Let us discover the deepest desires of our hearts and bring them to prayer!

Jesus asks him what he wants. The power of prayer is to want those things that the Lord wishes us to ask for. Many of our desires are just for those few coins that help us to survive. It is important that we express the desires that are in the bottom of our hearts, for our hearts were made to encounter God. Our hearts were created to go to Jerusalem with Christ. It is interesting that when Bartimaeus receives his sight, he does not use it for little things. He looks upon Christ and begins to follow him. The point was not being healed for the sake of being healed but in order to follow Jesus. In the depths of all of our hearts there is this thirst for life. Prayer is not just a devotional obligation but the means by which we uncover this desire. Bartimaeus leaves behind his cloak, the symbol of his life as a beggar. In prayer, we are to leave behind our old lives in order to embrace the new. This Sunday may the Lord grant us the courage to plumb our hearts for their deepest desires, which are the soul of genuine prayer.

 

ALTERNATIVE HOMILY . . . In Sunday’s Gospel the blind man, Bartimaeus, calls out insistently, “Jesus son of David, have mercy on me!” Prayer demands perseverance and resolve on our parts. But what is it that makes us persevere? When we are aware of our poverty and our desperation, then we call out most strongly to the Lord! Our weakness and our neediness is the powerhouse of our prayer! The people tell Bartimaeus to shut up. In my life too there are many forces that tell me to shut up, who insist that I desist from praying. The three classic enemies of prayer are the world, the flesh and the devil. The world tells me to solve my own problems with direct action, not with submission to the Lord. The flesh with its passions and impulses is not disposed to prayer. It makes me lazy and wilful, distracts me with other things. The devil tells me that God does not listen to my prayer so why bother? He tells me that I am of no importance before the Lord. All of these forces dissuade me from praying, but they demonstrate how important prayer truly is! In response to these negative voices I must become like Bartimaeus and cry to the Lord all the louder. Bartimaeus casts away his cloak and turns with insistence to Jesus. We too must cast away our “cloaks”, the things that conceal who we really are, the roles and expectations that we have. We must place ourselves before the Lord so that our prayer becomes a meeting of two desires, the desire of my heart and the desire of the Lord for my good. But how can I be sure that my prayer will be an expression of what is true and essential in my heart? If I persevere in prayer, then the combat of perseverance will purify my prayer so that it becomes a sincere expression of who I am before God and of my deepest needs. Then we can expect Jesus to reply, as he did to Bartimaeus, “Go, your faith has saved you!”

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