Sunday Scriptures

Overcoming Spiritual Blindness

by Father William R. Dulaney

Imagine you had the opportunity to have a conversation with Jesus at some point during His public ministry. What would you say? What question would you ask Him? What might He say to you? How would you react?

The selections from Mark’s Gospel for last Sunday and today present individuals who approach Jesus with requests for favors or healings.

In last week’s Gospel, James and John demanded of Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you … grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left.” Jesus countered sharply, “You do not know what you are asking,” and indicated that they must serve others and share His cup of suffering if they want to share in His glory.

In today’s Gospel from St. Mark, we read about Bartimaeus, the blind beggar. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus repeatedly called to Him, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus inquired of him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Filled with faith in Jesus’ healing power, Bartimaeus replied, “Master, I want to see.” He immediately received his sight.

Faith Had Saved Him

Jesus assured Bartimaeus it was his faith that had saved him. Our Lord’s kindness and favor was not wasted on Bartimaeus; having received his sight, he immediately followed Jesus as He continued on His journey. Bartimaeus approach and response to Jesus serves as a model of how we should be open to and react to the Lord’s presence and love in our lives.

What a contrast!

James and John present Jesus with a list of demands which makes it clear they misunderstand or are blind to whom Jesus is and what His Kingdom is all about.

Bartimaeus, physically blind, was enlightened spiritually and was disposed to open his heart to Jesus’ grace and power. He decided, without hesitation, reservations, or conditions, to follow the Lord.

Reflecting on these Gospel passages challenge us to consider: Which of the individuals in these stories am I most like? Is position or prestige more important to me than God or others? When I pray, do I try to discern God’s will for me, or do I only ask God for what I want or tell God how I think things should be? Do I hope to enjoy eternity in heaven without sacrificing or giving anything of myself?

Hopefully, our answers to these questions might lead us to make changes where necessary in our lives. Yet, as we strive to address our shortcomings and be more faithful followers of Christ, we need to be gentle with ourselves. Old habits certainly die hard, change takes time and setbacks may be very discouraging. When even our best efforts are slow or fail to bring about the changes we envisioned, today’s first and second readings can provide us welcome inspiration and encouragement.

Jeremiah rejoices in the Lord’s concern for the weak, the needy and those who have strayed when he writes, “Thus says the Lord … proclaim your praise and say: the Lord delivered His people. Behold, I will bring them back … I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst … They departed in tears but I will console them and guide them … so that none shall stumble.”

Our second reading from Hebrews indicates that every high priest, human and weak, having been called by God to act on his behalf, deals patiently with the ignorant and the erring.

Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest, understands and sympathizes with us in our human weakness. He was glorified through His suffering and death; He suffered and died to redeem and justify us so we, in turn, could be glorified in Him.

Through Christ, the deliverance of God’s people prophesied by Jeremiah has been accomplished. Our Lord wants us, having followed Him by serving others, to be with Him forever in His heavenly kingdom.

When Jesus asks you what He inquired of Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you,” you might answer, “Lord, enlighten me that I may see everything through your eyes; help me follow you and keep me close to you. Should I stray, bring me back to you. Help me serve you by giving of myself for others so that one day you will welcome me into your kingdom.”[hr]

Readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 31: 7-9

Psalm 126: 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

Hebrews 5:1-6

Mark 10: 46-52[hr] Father William R. Dulaney is a parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great parish, Bellerose.