Catholic homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: LESSONS FROM BLIND BARTIMAEUS
By: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong at St Mary Magdalene Cath. Church, Omaha, USA.
1. Another Branch. We have many lessons to learn from a blind beggar, Bartimaeus who lived about 2000 years ago. Let’s start by acknowledging the creativity of some beggars today. A man walks past a beggar on the corner of the street where he works. The beggar holds out one hand and the man drops a $10 bill into his hand. Another day the man walks past the beggar again and notices the beggar is holding hold out both his hands. He asks, “Why are you holding out both of your hands?”.The beggar replied, “You see Sir, business is going very well so I decided to open another branch.”
2. Six Lessons or More: Today’s Gospel reading (Mk 10:46-52) is a profound description of a great miracle and a great reflection of what each person’s response to Christ or Christian life can be and should be. Bartimaeus teaches me at least 6 lessons about my faith journey as a Christian. And faith journey is presented as a return from exile in today’s 1st reading (Jer 31:7-9). Our faith journey is a personal and collective return from exile, guided by God, who promised: “I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child…” (Jer 31:8). As our Lord fulfilled this prophecy of Jeremiah, Bartimaeus not only cooperated with the Lord’s gathering but left several lessons for me and the rest of humanity seeking peace and salvation. 1. Bartimaeus sifted useful information from the crowd. Yes, a crowd followed Jesus on his way out of Jericho. Bartimaeus could not see but he at least heard passers-by. He asked what was going on. 2. Bartimaeus had faith in Jesus. In v.47: On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Wow, Bartimaeus had faith, that Jesus of Nazareth was no ordinary person. He was the Messiah for that is the meaning of the title “Son of David”. He expressed his faith in the Messiah publicly. 3. Bartimaeaus overcame human hindrances. He was not intimidated by those who wanted him to be invisible and quiet. Some people in the crowd rebuked him…But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Notice that those who rebuked Bartimaeus were followers of Christ. Yes, a crowd of followers. So we can get hindrances even from fellow Christians. 4. Bartimaeus overcame material hindrances. Bartimaeus was a beggar. Yet, he did not even allow his few possessions to hinder him. V.50: He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. 5. Bartimaes asked for sight not alms/money. V.51: 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.” Bartimaeus clearly had faith in Jesus as one who could heal him. 6. Bartimaeus followed Jesus immediately he was healed. V.52: our Lord told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
3. Applications. Dear sisters and brothers, notice how Bartimaeus used his gift of sight. He used it to follow the person who healed him. Notice that our Lord told him to go his way. He was free to go home. He was free to go back to family and friends. His was free to roam the world. He was free to go places. But Bartimaeus chose to use his miraculously restored sight to follow the Messiah. This is the best use of our gifts of sight, of hearing, of speaking, of our entire lives. Amazing lessons from a blind beggar who had faith. Bartimaeus inspires me to use my gifts for the service of God and neighbor. Ironically, it was a blind beggar, who saw Jesus not as the Nazarene but as the Messiah and insisted on it. Yes, the crowd told him Jesus of Nazareth, but he shouted, “Son of David”, that is, Messiah. The blind beggar has taught me to use my God-given sight and other gifts to follow the Messiah. Before being healed to see with the eyes of his body, Bartimaeus, already had the gift of seeing with the eye of his soul, the gift of faith. No wonder, it becomes even a greater miracle when those of us who can see physically but are spiritually blind are made to see spiritually. John Newton left us with the music to celebrate this greater miracle whenever it happens in our lives: “Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch; like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”