The Blind Man Speaks Up! What Bartimaeus teaches us about Faith



Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
October 28, 2012
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar who met Jesus on the road to Jericho, is a dramatic event from the Gospel of Mark that can’t help bring a smile to our faces as we read of his insistent, persevering boldness! He illustrates something very important about the true nature of Christian faith.

There were hundreds in the crowd that day at Jericho. No doubt all of them had needs, many of them urgent. But this Sunday’s gospel (Mark 10:46-52) tells us that apparently only one of them had the audacity to speak up and ask for help from the prophet that everyone had come to see.

The man happened to be a blind beggar, the son of a man named Timaeus. Bartimaeus probably did not know that the celebrity was, as our second reading tells us, the great high priest according to the order of Melchizedek who was appointed by God to take away the sins of the world. It’s likely too that he did not know that this Jesus was the Son of God, the incarnate Word, equal to the Father.

But in the few words he spoke, as recorded in the Gospel, we see that he did believe several important things about this VIP. First, by calling him “Son of David,” he was indicating his faith that Jesus was the messiah, the king destined to revive the fortunes of Israel and fulfill the legacy of the one who delivered Israel from the scourge of its enemies. He also evidently believed that this teacher (whom he called Rabbouni) had the power to rid him of his own personal scourge–blindness. This was a power that neither the kings nor the rabbis of Israel typically possessed.

So Bartimaeus had faith in Jesus. And he received the miracle he so ardently desired. Jesus told him that it was his faith, in fact, that saved him.

But silent conviction alone would not have done the trick. No, had he just believed quietly in the man who everyone was making a fuss about, Jesus would have walked right by him.

Fortunately, Bartimaeus had the kind of faith that speaks up and acts up. Jesus says elsewhere in the Gospel that he who asks, receives. He tells parables about seemingly rude widows and neighbors who make a nuisance of themselves, persistently asking for what they want and finally getting it.

Maybe Bartimaeus heard these words of Jesus on another occasion. Or maybe he simply knew this by instinct and the promptings of grace. If he really believed that Jesus could do anything, why would he allow the Rabbi to pass him by without fulfilling his urgent need? Carpe Diem!

Bartimaeus makes it clear that if faith is humble and receptive, it is not demure, shy, or reticent. Faith takes initiative. It can actually be boisterous, even outrageous at times. He can’t see exactly where Jesus is and so can’t walk right up to him to present his request in a dignified, semi-private manner. So he uses what he has . . . his voice. He makes a scene. The more people tell him to be quiet the louder he shouts. And when he finally gets Jesus’s attention and is summoned, the text says he eagerly leaps to his feet.

As I read this story, I’m tempted to think if I’d have been there, with the Lord Jesus standing there in front of me, I’d have spoken up as well.

Well, every Sunday I’m confronted with the real and true presence of the same One who healed Bartimaeus. For in the Eucharist the sacrament of sacraments, it is not just God’s grace (which is awesome enough) but Christ’s bodily presence which is made available. Guaranteed.

So why do so many of us go to Mass again and again and walk out the door much the same as we went in? Why so little healing, so little growth in holiness? Maybe because we lack the outrageous faith of Bartimaeus. Every sacramental celebration, especially the Eucharist, says the Catechism (CCC 739, 1106), is a new Pentecost. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, healing, purification, guidance, all are there for the taking. We don’t need to shout like Bartimaeus. But like him, we can determine to stop going home empty handed.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
October 28, 2012

30th Sunday: Living in His Light
Betty and Ben , an elderly husband and wife, were sitting in the living room watching TV when Betty decided a snack was in order. She said to Ben, “I’d love to have a bowl of ice cream right now.” Ben said, “I’ll get it for you.” Now Betty, knowing that Ben was becoming more and more forgetful, said to him, “Why don’t you write down that I’d like two scoops of vanilla ice cream?” “I don’t need to write it down,” Ben protested. As he was leaving the room, Betty called out, “How about putting some chocolate syrup on that ice cream?” “Sounds good,” said Ben. “Write it down,” said Betty. “I don’t need to write it down,” said Ben. “OK,” said Betty. “Do you think you can put a couple of cherries on the ice cream too?” “You want cherries, you get cherries,” said Ben. “Maybe you should write this all down, Ben.” “I don’t need to write it down, Betty.”

When was Jesus ordained a priest?
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Hebrews 5:1-6
No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest.
While St. Paul, in his Letter to the Hebrews, generally distinguishes our Savior from Aaron (showing that the priesthood of Christ is greater than that of Aaron), in this place the Apostle emphasizes this point of similarity between the Levitical priesthood and the eternal priesthood of Jesus.

Blessed John Paul II’s feast day added to US liturgical calendar
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has approved a request by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to add Blessed John Paul II’s feast day to the US liturgical calendar as an optional memorial

The Pontiff’s feast day is October 22, the day on which he inaugurated his Petrine ministry. The collect for the Mass is the following:

On the problem of pretending in the Christian life, and its solution.
One of the Gospels from last week’s daily masses (Luke 12:1–7) opens up some important insights on the “problem of pretending” in the Christian life. One of the problems in getting to this insight of the Lord, is the understanding we have today of the word hypocrisy. To some extent, we have lost the more subtle distinctions and nuances of the word hypocrisy. For most of us today, hypocrisy means, in effect, that our deeds do not match our truest beliefs. There we are inconsistent, that, in effect, we say one thing and do another. While this is part of hypocrisy, is not the whole story.

Being and Delight
If we consider love as the world considers it — that is, love as a positive response to another’s lovable attributes — then to love an infant makes precious little sense. The precious, little, eternally-pooping creatures take our food, money, time, sleep, sex-life, attention, devotion, macho-manliness and female grace – all without thanks or return.
Infant love only ceases to be an absurdity if considered as a response to a biological imperative to continue our personal, genetic kingdom. But that is not our experience of the thing. We delight in the newborn.

Five Ways to Defend the Faith Against Unexpected Attacks
There are times where we seek out opportunities to evangelize for the faith, but sometimes, the opportunity comes to us. When this happens, it’s not always pleasant. A couple months ago, for example, I was on a flight next to a guy who spent nearly the entire time telling me how rotten the Catholic Church was, I could hardly get a thought in edgewise.
It might be a Protestant trying to save you from your Catholicism, a dissenting Catholic trying to liberate you from obeying the Church, or an atheist trying to enlighten you about the foolishness of belief in God. What should we do in response to these situations?

Satan Likes to Hide, but every now and then, He shows his face.
The video below is a humorous commercial that illustrates that sometimes our enemy, Satan disguises himself in very unlikely ways.
It would seem that one of the more common tactics of Satan in our times is to hide and/or disguise himself. Indeed, in our times he is never more powerful than when he is denied or forgotten. In secular and rationalistic times why should he tip his hand too frequently or do anything that might cause further belief in the supernatural?

Philosophy Books with the Most Truth
The late Roderick Chisholm of Brown University told me that once a prominent businessman in Providence, RI, called him and asked, “I’ve lately become interested in philosophy, but I’m a busy man and don’t have much time to read. Can you tell me what one philosophy book, in your view, contains the most truth? I’ll read that at least.” Professor Chisholm recommended that this man read Thomas Reid’s Inquiry into the Human Mind– which I wager was the last philosophy book that that businessman read!

I confess to being a bit stumped that Professor Chisholm did not recommend instead the one philosophy book that Professor Chisholm studied every day. As he told me himself, the first thing that he did every morning was to read for 15 minutes from the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, on the grounds, he said, that this exercise put his mind in the right attitude to do serious and rigorous philosophy.

Prayer as a Theological Act
Some look at prayer as merely the indulgence of devout feelings or a pious exercise of the imagination or else a plunge into an empty abyss of meaninglessness. Still others approach prayer as something to be mastered by technique, program or method. Probably, there are religious traditions that advocate such approaches to prayer. But the Catholic tradition, and traditional Christianity as a whole, discerns prayer as essentially theological: a sacred conversation with the Hidden God revealed by the Word made flesh.

When a Saint’s Prayers Went ‘Unanswered’
It’s something I’m sure every faithful Christian has experienced at least once: you prayed for something specific—a new job, a new house, or perhaps a cure from illness or injury—and you didn’t get it.
Well, you’re not alone.
Even some saints prayed for certain things that they did not get.

A Voice for the Voiceless
Henry Bergh did not find the climate of Russia agreeable. Vice Consul at the American legation in Saint Petersburg from 1862-1864, he resigned rather than face another Russian winter. Independently wealthy, Bergh did not need his diplomat’s salary and could have retired, he was 51 in 1864, to a life of leisure if he wished. Instead he embarked on a new career that in its own way was more trying even than a Russian winter.

The Good News needs the bad news to make sense. A call for the balance of orthodoxy
One of the struggles that many people have an understanding the good news the Church proclaims, is that many people have either not heard, or are not in touch with the bad news.
Imagine a man reading the headlines of the newspaper announcing a miraculous cure for a terrible and deadly disease. But imagine again that the man has never heard of the disease, let alone knows that he has it. Thus, the headline of the miraculous cure would likely have little impact on him, and he would think to himself “Ho hum, let’s see what else is in the paper.”

The Beginning of the End of the Abortion Industry?
For former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, the turning point came when she was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion.
“Abortions are typically performed blind,” explained Johnson, who served as health director for Planned Parenthood in College Station, Texas. “The doctor takes the suction instrument and probes until he thinks he’s gotten everything.”
On this particular day in the fall of 2009, “the visiting physician wanted to use an ultrasound as a teaching tool to show us what an abortion looked like,” recalled Johnson. “I was excited about the prospect of learning something new. My job, during the procedure, was to hold the ultrasound probe on the patient’s abdomen.”
What Johnson saw on-screen would forever change her life.

Purgatory: An Objection Answered
In Catholic theology, Purgatory is a state (or a process, not necessarily a place) to which one’s soul travels if one has died in a state of grace, but nevertheless retains unremitted venial sins and certain ingrained bad habits and dispositions.

That is, Purgatory is a state for the redeemed who are not yet perfected. It is not a halfway house between Heaven and Hell. In Purgatory, you willingly undergo the quality and quantity of pain and suffering that is uniquely prepared for you so that you may enter Heaven unblemished.

Support these great Catholic speakers!
Well, Support a Catholic Speaker Month was designed to last through September, but posts are still popping up around the Internet. I scooped up several speakers to profile myself, so along with the other 95 men and women spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth, check out these wonderful speakers!

The 7 Prayers Every Catholic Should Know in Latin
Listers in 1978 Bl. Pope John Paul II said, “We exhort you all to lift up high the torch of Latin which is even today a bond of unity among peoples of all nations.” Even Vatican II and Pope John XXIII lauded Latin and asked that it remain the universal language of the Church; however, today the Roman Church has turned its back on Latin and blamed it on the ever-shifting spectre or “spirit” of Vatican II. SPL collected 14 quotes on the importance of Latin in the Church and drew many from the actual Vatican II documents and from post-Vatican II popes. Continuing in this proper understanding of Sacred Tradition, it is only fitting that the listers have a list to help them develop their use of Latin. The following prayers are all the prayers one would need to pray the Holy Rosary in Latin. Enjoy.

How do you help someone who suffers with severe anger?
Q: Dear Father John, I am a priest providing spiritual direction to a young man suffering with anger problems. He has recently returned to the sacraments. He is frustrated with God that he has asked him to take away this hurtful anger but God has not answered his prayer. Can you offer advice about how to overcome severe habitual challenges with anger?
A: Anger is the most complex of the human passions. Understanding its underlying dynamism will help give you some light, but first we can begin with some general comments pertinent to this particular case.

Do demons experience time?
Q: Dear Father Fortea, do demons experience time like we do?
A: Yes, in a sense. As pure spirits, angels and demons exist outside of earthly, material time. However, they do experience a type of “spiritual” time—“a before and an after” to their acts of understanding and will. Whenever we speak of “before” and “after,” we are speaking of some sort of time. This time is called aeveternal (from the Latin aevum), a succession of acts of understanding and will in a spiritual being. (St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century speaks about aevum in the Summa Theologica, I, 10, 5.)

Therefore, when we say that the spirits in heaven and hell are in “eternity,” we need to understand this as an unending temporal succession (i.e., the passing of time without end) from a distinct beginning (i.e., the moment of their creation). Strictly speaking, only God is eternal; only He has “no time.” God experiences past, present, and future as eternally present.

Entire Civilizations Have Faded From History After Divorcing Themselves From God. Will We Be Next?
                                                 The Wrong Side of History
October is the month of the Most Holy Rosary, a devotion associated in modern times with the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima in 1917, during the First World War. Mary asked for prayer and penance, which she always requests in these private revelations that echo the public revelation in the Gospel: “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Mary at Fatima also entered into the history of the modern world when she told three unlettered peasant children that the Great War then being waged, President Wilson’s “war to end all wars,” would soon end, but that a greater menace to world peace would arise in Russia, whose errors would spread throughout the world and bring untold millions to violent death. In the end, however, Mary promised that her Immaculate Heart would triumph. This promise, too, echoes the Gospel itself: the risen Christ is victorious over sin and death.

Ten myths about gay ‘marriage’
The Prime Minister David Cameron wants to redefine marriage to allow gay couples to marry. Thus far over 600,000 people have signed a petition launched by the Coalition for Marriage(C4M) against these plans which reads simply as follows:

‘I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.’

I have previously written on this issue and have published 24 articles on all aspects of the debate. One of these, ‘Ten reasons not to legalise same-sex marriage in Britain’, gives an overview of the main issues.

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