Pastoral Sharings: "Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for October 25, 2015

The story of the curing of Blind Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel is so vividly drawn by St Mark in his Gospel that we can see the scene unfolding before our very eyes. We can quite easily bring up an image in our mind of this blind man sitting on his cloak at the side of the road begging for alms. In our mind’s eye we can also see him spring up to call out to Jesus using the messianic title ‘Son of David.’ 

We can also imagine the crowd scolding the blind man and telling him to keep quiet. Actually this little point is interesting and demonstrates how fickle a crowd can be. Often we see in the Gospels how the crowd wanted to see miracles particularly of healing and how they would usually push sick people forward to Jesus for healing. 

But on this occasion for some reason they hold the blind man back, not seeming to want him to be healed. Maybe there were just so many blind people around that they took his blindness for granted and didn’t think he needed healing. 

Normally in the Gospels we don’t hear the names of those who were healed by Jesus but here Mark makes quite sure to tell us that it was Bartimaeus. This could be because Bartimaeus was already a well-known figure, which is a bit unlikely, or more probably because he later became an important figure in the Early Church and would therefore be known to Mark’s readers.  

What we are dealing with here is a story of discipleship and if Bartimaeus truly became a disciple then he certainly would have been an important figure in the newly formed Church being someone who was actually cured by Jesus.

Interestingly although we are talking about discipleship nowhere does Jesus actually say to Bartimaeus the words, ‘Follow me’. Nevertheless Bartimaeus spontaneously follows Jesus along the road. It is as if the healing itself was an explicit call to discipleship. 

Another little detail in the story comes in the words, ‘throwing off his cloak.’ It was very common for a beggar to wear a large cloak and while they might be actually wearing the cloak most of it would have been spread around them so that they could catch in it the coins dropped to them by passers-by. 

But here in this story Bartimaeus throws off the cloak as a sign that he has given up his former role as a beggar, even perhaps leaving a few coins on the ground. 

The vocabulary in this text is also interesting. It is very strong. Bartimaeus ‘shouts’, he is ‘scolded’, then he ‘throws off’ his cloak and he ‘jumps’ up. And his sight returns ‘immediately’ and he ‘straight away’ takes after Jesus along the road. 

There is no ambiguity here. Bartimaeus doesn’t get up; no, he jumps up. It is as if he was waiting all his life for this moment and the people trying to hold him back prove to be no obstacle to him. 

The words are strong, the actions are positive and there is absolutely no ambiguity about what is happening here. It is a well-crafted account of a wonderful healing.

Of course, the most important thing about the story is that it involves the restoration of sight. In the Gospels sight is a very important concept since it is a sign of the insight a disciple has into the Gospel of Jesus. 

This sight, or insight, is something that each of us needs to acquire. We want Jesus to open our eyes to the secrets of the Gospel, to the message of eternal life. In the scriptures to see is to understand and here in the story of Bartimaeus his healing comes about because he understands who Jesus is. The title that he gives Jesus is Son of David which was a title at that time commonly understood to mean the Messiah. 

Bartimaeus’ eagerness to jump up and follow Jesus is the best indication you could get that he has accepted Jesus teaching and chooses to follow him as a disciple. 

One would have to conclude that this was not the first time that Bartimaeus had come across Jesus. Either he had heard Jesus’ teaching already or he had heard someone else explaining what Jesus was telling the people. In order for him to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah he would certainly have to have known something about him beforehand. 

I suppose that sitting there by the side of the road all day also meant that Bartimaeus had plenty of time to think about things. He surely had the time to reflect deeply on the message of Jesus and come to the conclusion that he was the Messiah and someone who was really worth following. 

Then Bartimaeus leaves his former life and follows Jesus. We don’t hear about him anywhere else in the scriptures so this following of Jesus cannot have meant him literally following Jesus around for the next year or so. But certainly it meant he joined the crowd that went around listening to Jesus as he preached and healed in that immediate neighborhood. 

Probably when Jesus left the district Bartimaeus stayed at home but he would do so as a changed man, as someone with a new way of life, as someone with a completely different motivating force in his life. 

We should see Bartimaeus as a parable of discipleship. He is blind, he cannot see, he is dependent on the generosity of others. But once he encounters Jesus he finds sight and with it freedom. Now he can move around independently, now he can earn his own living, now he has acquired insight into the meaning and purpose of life. In short, he is a completely new man. 

The same thing happens to us when we accept the Gospel; we rejoice in the fact that we are now liberated and that our life is transformed. We now see the world through different eyes. We have found the Messiah and our lives are filled with meaning and new purpose. 

The Gospel has liberated us from our former way of life and we now walk in the light of the Lord.
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2299

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
October 25, 2015

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: A Practical Guide to Understanding the Priesthood

This week I would like to concentrate on the second reading, which I would call the Practical Guide to Understanding the Priesthood. 

First of all the reading comes from the Letter to the Hebrews, a lengthy sermon written to shore up the faith of  second and third generation Christians of Hebrew ancestry.  When the writer begins by mentioning High Priests, he is speaking about two groups of people.  He is referring both to the Temple priests of the Old Covenant and Christian bishops and priests, the priests of the New Covenant.  He says that every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. 

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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10: 46–52
Gospel Summary

The curing of a blind man in today’s gospel passage is remarkable for several reasons. First of all, it is quite unusual in the gospels to give a name to the person healed, and this suggests that Bartimaeus was a recognizable member of the early Christian community from which Mark’s gospel came.

Secondly, the blind man refers to Jesus as “son of David,” a clearly Messianic title, but Jesus does not correct him, as he does elsewhere in Mark’s gospel out of concern that he be seen as a political Messiah. No doubt the fact that he has by now made it clear that “the Son of man must suffer greatly” (Mark 8: 31), there is less danger of mistaking him for one who will lead them in a war of liberation against the Romans.

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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—October 25, 2015

A blind man insists on crying out to Jesus, getting on everyone’s nerves. How was his vision better than theirs?

Gospel (Read Mk 10:46-52)

As Jesus, His disciples, and “a sizeable crowd” were leaving Jericho (a city about 17 miles northeast of Jerusalem), they encountered a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, sitting by the roadside. The buzz from the crowd told Bartimaeus that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” This was a very unusual way for a person who didn’t know Jesus to address Him. It was full of Messianic significance. The Jews believed that the Messiah for whom they waited would be a descendant of King David and his rightful heir (see Isa 9:7; Ezek 34:23-24). In addition, Jewish tradition expected the Messiah to heal and exorcise demons, as it was believed that King Solomon once did (see Wis 7:20). So, in one loud cry, the blind beggar identifies Jesus as the One for whom all Jews longed. The crowd wasn’t amused: “And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.” This raises two questions: (1) How did Bartimaeus know who Jesus was? (2) Why was the crowd so impatient with him?

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A Review of Head and Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family

As the Synod on the Family continues in Rome, Catholic families around the world are refocusing on the importance of transmitting the faith in a vibrant, intentional way at home. At this particular moment in history, spiritual leadership and growth in holiness within the family really demands our attention as sons and daughters of the Church, and as spouses and parents within our families.

If there is one thing I’ve discovered as a Catholic wife and mother of six children, it’s this: there are no prescriptions for holiness.

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Pope Francis: New Saints Point to Humility — not Worldly Power

In his canonization homily for four new saints, including the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Holy Father highlighted the Christian ‘path of love and service.’

VATICAN CITY — On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized four new saints, whose greatest legacy he said was their tireless imitation of Jesus in humble service to others, which is something each of us are asked to emulate.

“The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outstanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master,” the Pope said Oct. 18.

“The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary,” he told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass.

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Pray For Me: Understanding Pope Francis

The pope is always one-of-a-kind on the world stage, and has no competition except for Satan and his followers. If there are any human contenders for his position in the Church, those would have to keep that ambition a secret from fellow Cardinals, because self-promotion is not exactly a Christian virtue in this role.

He had just been elected pope, and finished his greeting to the assembled crowed by saying, “Pray for me”. This phrase is now a world famous tag line, but not from an actor or politician looking for a unique identity in a crowded field of contenders. Ever since he uttered those words on the library balcony of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, just after his election, Pope Francis has been the subject of analysis by the entire world.

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13 Surprising Facts from the Inspired Life of St. John Paul II

October 22nd is the feast of the great St. John Paul II!

Here are 13 amazing facts about his incredible life that you may not have known:

[See also: Why Satan Is So Scared of St. John Paul II, According to Rome’s Chief Exorcist]

[See also: The Little-Known Story of Pope St. John Paul II’s Ferraris]

1) At age 15, he was almost killed in an accidental shooting by a friend

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Apostolic Maturity

Presence of God – Your love, O my God, matures my soul and renders it capable of giving itself fully to the service of souls.

MEDITATION

We may ask if the apostle can devote himself freely to the apostolate when he has reached the degree of union with God in which the flame of zeal bursts forth spontaneously. The fact is that, at this point, he cannot and should not evade the gift of self. Whether he is consecrated to contemplation or to action, whether he lives in the cloister or in the midst of the turmoil of the world, his life consists henceforth in giving himself unceasingly: in giving himself to God for the good of his neighbor, in giving himself to his neighbor for the glory of God.

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All in the (Catholic) Family

Recently, Vatican officials announced that Léonie Martin, St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s sister and fellow nun, was to join her illustrious sister and parents in attaining sainthood.

Her canonization cause is under way as her beloved parents, Louis and Zélie Guérin, are to be canonized Oct. 18. Is this unprecedented?

No. Throughout Church history, holy people have sought each other out, married and shared their moral and spiritual example with their children. Among them are:

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Drinking the Cup of Hope

“The Cup that I drink, you will drink.”

I was on a flight from Los Angeles to Manila a few weeks after the tragic air disaster of 24th March 2015 in which a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps while travelling from Barcelona to Duesseldorf leaving more than 140 passengers dead. Thinking of that tragic flight few weeks earlier, I prayed my Rosary more earnestly for a safe trip for us. Just as I finished my Rosary, the man sitting at my side asked me, “If you die today, do you know where you are going?” Talk about getting my attention! I later on learned that he was a Baptist minister. I replied, “I hope to enter into full and perfect communion with the Triune God and the Saints (especially Mother Mary) and Angels in heaven.” He answered, “You only hope?” I knew what hope meant for him, coming from his Christian tradition that teaches “Once saved, always saved.”

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Seven Aspects of Mary’s Sanctity

Now, except on the one issue of “praying to” saints, most of the differences between us [Catholics and Fundamentalists] are matters of emphasis or sensibility rather than doctrine. But when it comes to Mary, the greatest saint, doctrine sharply divides. Fundamentalists call Mariology “Mariolatry.” Passions run higher on this than on any other issue.

Yet here too there’s a difference in sensibility behind the dispute. Fundamentalists would be much more open to the Marian doctrines (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption) if they understood the motives behind devotion to Mary.

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The Holy Rosary: Satan’s Nemesis

October is known as the month of the Holy Rosary. In honor of this recognition, let’s examine some of the history of the rosary, what it is and what it is not, how to say it, and answer some common objections to its use.

Rosary History

The origin of the Holy Rosary is somewhat cloudy.  Originally, monks recited all 150 psalms in prayer (how anyone could memorize all 150 psalms is a miracle!).  This proved to be very hard for most people to do, so eventually 150 “Hail Mary’s” were said instead, interspersed with the “Our Father” between every ten Hail Mary’s. Small pebbles were used as counters.  Over time, meditations on the life of Jesus and Mary were added to every five decades of the Hail Mary’s, and the pebbles were strung together.

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Abide with me, Lord

Deep within each of us is a hunger and thirst. For some, the feeling is so strong that it is never quite out of mind. For others, the feeling is repressed and hardly noticed, although it remains a part of them.

The simple fact is that the very space we take up and all that is around us did not always exist. There was a beginning for space, just as there was a beginning for you and me. We move from one place to another and just as we move through and occupy our particular space, we also move through time. Time did not always exist either; there was a beginning even for time.

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Beauty as a Sign of Hope

There are in life certain things which everyone agrees need to be paid for, even if sacrifices must be made in order to do so. Most will agree that even if something is not necessary but still useful, it is worth the money.  However, far fewer willingly make sacrifices for things that are worthy in and of themselves–like beauty.  Sometimes one needs to experience the joys of such a sacrifice, in order to understand its value.  If ever you should happen to be in Jackson, Michigan, drop into St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, to help with that understanding.  Look up at the magnificent high altar, and behind you at the rose window of St. Cecilia above the choir loft.  Walk forward and turn to your left to view the World War I window in the transept.  Then kneel at the altar rail and soak in all of this beauty in the presence of the King.

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The Saint Knows: God is All You Need

My mind has been calmed by, among other things, a bookmark and a simple prayer.

I’m writing these thoughts late in the evening Thursday, October 15. For the Catholic Church, this has been the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila. Among those in the Discalced Carmelite order – be they priests/friars, nuns or lay seculars – the 16th-century Spanish nun is known by her name in Carmel: St. Teresa of Jesus. Or even more fondly, she is called Holy Mother, for indeed she reformed the Carmelite order and gave it the direction Carmelites enjoy pursuing today.

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On Living Intentionally

“Will-power. A very important quality. Don’t despise little things, for by the continual practice of denying yourself again and again in such things—which are never futile or trivial—with God’s grace you will add strength and resilience to your character. In that way you will first become master of yourself, and then a guide, a chief, a leader: to compel and to urge and to inspire others, with your word, with your example, with your knowledge and with your power.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way 19)

Do you ever catch yourself in a moment of candid realization that you have developed bad habits, neglected your faith and created distance between yourself and Christ? This happens to me all too frequently and after realizing I was off course during a recent visit to Eucharistic Adoration, I decided to do something about it. What I needed was to toughen my resistance and develop new “muscles” to fight my patterns of spiritual failure. I committed to introduce more intention into my life and show stronger willpower.

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Sanctifying the Present Moment

Occasionally on Fridays I will be posting excerpts from the writings of the great American bishop and media evangelist, Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. Call them #FultonFridays!

[One] remedy for the ills that come to us from thinking about time is what might be called the sanctification of the moment—or the Now. Our Lord laid down the rule for us in these words: “Do not fret, then, over tomorrow; leave tomorrow to fret over its own needs; for today, today’s troubles are enough.” (Matt. 6:34)

This means that each day has its own trials; we are not to borrow troubles from tomorrow, because that day, too, will have its cross. We are to leave the past to Divine Mercy and to trust the future, whatever its trials, to His Loving Providence.
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Sixth Spiritual Work of Mercy: Comfort the Afflicted

The sixth spiritual work of mercy highlights an act of charity that we too often neglect. In American society we tend to avoid, “comforting the afflicted,” and either try to solve the “problem” or dismiss a person’s suffering entirely. We are even told that suffering is a sign of weakness and so many of us will never bring up our affliction in front of others.

Simply put, we are afraid of suffering. It makes us feel uncomfortable.

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Do We Choose toGo to Purgatory?

Last week we examined the dire results of turning our backs away from God. This week we will take a look at a place for those on the road to Heaven, but who need to be cleansed before they are able to enter into the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

First of all, let us see how the Church describes this place, called “Purgatory:”

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Do Ghosts Exist? Should We Fear Them?

Since we are currently looking at the mysterious world of spiritual creatures, it would be beneficial to examine the popular topic of “ghosts.” October is a month where we see “ghosts” everywhere, in front of houses, at work and all over school.

But do they actually exist? Or is it a silly superstition?

In discussing angels and demons, a common question arises in regards to ghosts. What are they? Angels, demons, souls in purgatory, another type of spiritual creature?
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What Attachments Are and What They Are Not

For most of us, attachments to this world are THE struggle that most hinders our spiritual growth. 80% of the spiritual life is a battle about desire and the fundamental question, “What do you want most, the world and its pleasures, or God and his Kingdom?” So easily this world gets its hooks into us and we become attached to it. It is hard to break free from inordinate desires.

But what are attachments, and what are they not?

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The reality of sin

386 Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history.

387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind’s origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.
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