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A Scripture reflection for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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by Stephen Bevans, SVD | October 27, 2018

A Scripture reflection for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 28, 2018

Readings:

 

Jeremiah 31:7-9

Psalm 128:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

Hebrews 5:1-6

Mark 10:46-52

 

 

“Jesus Is Calling You”

“He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and the erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.” This line in the middle of the second reading refers to the High Priests of the Old Testament, but it is also a beautiful description of Jesus in today’s gospel reading. It echoes a line from last week’s second reading from Hebrews: “We do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” Like the God of Isaiah in our first reading, Jesus is about delivering God’s people, especially those who suffer.

Jesus is depicted in the gospel today as someone who hears, who listens. Despite the noise of the crowd, despite the efforts of the crowd to shut Bartimaeus up, Jesus hears his cry for pity. And so he calls him and sensitively asks “what do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus could have wanted money. Or he could have wanted his sins forgiven. But what he wanted was to see. Jesus hears him. Immediately, the text says, Bartimaeus received his sight.

Scripture scholars tell us that this story comes at the end of a long section in the gospel of Mark—about two chapters—in which Jesus teaches his disciples what discipleship means. That long section begins with the healing of another blind man, but unlike the healing of Bartimaeus, this healing was not “immediate.” It was gradual. And that is the way of Jesus’ teaching on discipleship as it develops through these chapters. Discipleship is about taking up the cross (8:34-37). It’s about listening to Jesus carefully (9:7). It’s about protecting the weak and vulnerable (9:33-38). It’s about not being attached to what we have (10:17-31). Last week we had the last installment of that teaching—that disciples were not to seek after power and authority and prestige, but were to serve, like Jesus served people, in sensitivity to their own needs, dealing patiently with their ignorance, sympathizing with their weaknesses. In this story we see Jesus using his power to serve. He makes blind Bartimaeus see, and Bartimaeus “follows him on the way.” He becomes the ideal disciple, joining what Isaiah in our first reading calls a procession of “an immense throng” of those healed of blindness and lameness, those who were in tears, but now follow with tears wiped away.

“Jesus is calling you,” Bartimaeus is told. Then Bartimaeus sees and then follows. This is a pretty good description of discipleship, what it means to be a Christian: to be called, to be changed, and then to follow. Today, in these readings, what Bartimaeus was told is being told to us as well: “Jesus is calling you.” And as we come to Jesus today we might ask him to have pity on us to heal any blindness that we have, so that we can better follow. We might ask Jesus to help us see our families more clearly, to see their goodness, to see their struggles, to see beyond the things that irritate us about our brothers or sisters or spouses or children or parents. We might ask Jesus to help us see the goodness in ourselves, despite our failings. We might ask Jesus to help us see with a clearer vision those who suffer. Pope Francis talks about how the “globalization of indifference” makes us unable to be sensitive ourselves, to really see them and hear their cries for pity.  May we see more clearly those who are addicted to drugs and opioids, those who struggle to make ends meet, those who are homeless. May we see more clearly and with sympathy those seven thousand people from Honduras in that caravan across Central America. Maybe we can’t admit them all into our country, but we can hope and pray that the horrible and violent situation in their country can be changed. May we see more clearly the danger that what Pope Francis calls “our common home” is in from climate change, global warming, and misuse of its resources. May we see more clearly the sufferings of the thousands of victims of sexual abuse—abused not only by Catholic clergy but also by uncles and coaches and neighbors. May we see the continued sufferings of our sisters and brothers in the Carolinas and in the Florida Panhandle.

Like Jesus called Bartimaeus, Jesus is calling you. Jesus is calling us. Jesus is calling us to be healed. To see. To change. And to follow.

 

Steve Bevans, SVD

 

The above image is from the Public Domain.

Author information Stephen Bevans, SVD

Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor Emeritus of Mission and Culture
S.T.B., S.T.L., Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; M.A., Ph.D., University of Notre Dame; Study: University of Cambridge

Steve Bevans is a priest in the missionary congregation of the Society of the Divine Word and Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor Emeritus of Mission and Culture.

After completing his Licentiate in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1972, he served as a missionary to the Philippines until 1981. In 1986 he received a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and has taught at CTU since that time, officially retiring from the faculty in 2015.

He is the author or co-author of six books and editor or co-editor of eleven, including Models of Contextual Theology (2002), Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today (2004), and An Introduction to Theology in Global Perspective (2009). In 2013, he edited A Century of Catholic Mission, and, in 2015, with Cathy Ross, Mission on the Road to Emmaus: Constants, Context, and Prophetic Dialogue.

He is a member of the World Council of Churches' Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.

sbevans@ctu.edu


Books written by Steve Bevans

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