HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: Miracles of Jesus
BY: Fr. Jude Chijioke
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 24 2021
Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52
In the Gospels it is very rare to mention names of the sick men healed by Jesus: in today’s passage there is, however, an exception, Mark offers us a precise personal information with Bartimaeus, which in Aramaic means “son of Timaeus” (or Timai or Timothy). The precise location of the miracles of Jesus is also quite rare: here, however, there is the reference to the outskirts of Jericho, the oldest city in the world, located in an oasis of about three kilometers in diameter, in the Jordan valley almost 300 meters below the sea level. On the other hand, the healings of blind people in the Gospels are not rare and this fact is not only to be traced back to a particular endemic infection of the Middle East but to a higher and more secret value. To discover this deeper meaning we must go back to one of the many texts of the Old Testament in which “the opening of the eyes of the blind” is a kind of unequivocal indication of the inauguration of the Messiah’s times. When the Messianic Servant of the Lord enters, Isaiah writes – “the light shines for the pagan nations and the eyes of the blind are opened” (42, 6-7).
One of these biblical texts is also the passage from Jeremiah which formed the first reading of today’s Liturgy of the Word. It is cut out of the so-called “booklet of consolation”: these are the chapters 30-31 of the work of this prophet witnessing the collapse of Jerusalem under the Babylonian armies (586 BC), a text parallel to the larger and later “book of consolation” of the Second Isaiah, the anonymous author of chapters. 40-55 of the volume of Isaiah. The protagonist is the people who have passed through the anguish of oppression, deportation, exile, and persecution: it is composed only of the weak, the blind, the lame, pregnant women, symbols of suffering, pain, and marginalization. But it is with them that the Lord constitutes his new family. And it will be God’s effective action to transform this mass of poor people and victims of abuses into a glorious and joyful people.
We can, then, understand that, under the external, “physical” surface of Bartimaeus’ healing, there is a deeper and more messianic sign. First, the messianic hope is evident, underlined by the invocation repeated twice: “Son of David!”. Inner blindness is the first to be erased. In fact, Jesus declares first the presence of faith in this poor abandoned on the side of the road and marginalized by the crowd “who tried to silence him”: “your faith has saved you!”. The reaction of the miraculous person to the action and word of Jesus is also very significant: “he began to follow him along the way”. The sequela (following) of the disciple who sets out on the path of the Master towards the cross. And this is, among other things, a dominant theme in the second part of Mark’s Gospel, which is entirely marked by the itinerary that Jesus takes towards his destiny of death and glory.
The story of a physical miracle thus becomes the spiritual narrative of a vocation to faith and discipleship. In this sense, Bartimaeus’s story is open and possible to all of us, even if our physical eyes are clear and our vision clear. It is, in fact, the representation of a total illumination that penetrates the remote corners of the entire existence.
Once healed, the believer no longer remains on the sidelines, immersed in his daily sadness and darkness, he gets up and follows his Savior. Also, in the passage of Jeremiah we see series of verbs of movement: lead back, gather, return, bring back, lead, level road where one does not stumble etc. The encounter with God starts a new journey. Whoever stays on the edge of the street is because he did not want to invoke the Lord who passes by and therefore did not meet him. We need to know how to wait for him willingly, even in the dark moments when healthy neighbors “scold us to silence us”. Eventually, they will hear that decisive voice: “Get up! Jesus is calling you!”. And with purified and clear eyes, we will follow him forever, even on the harsh and narrow road that climbs to Jerusalem, towards the cross, certain that his light will forever shine.
Fr. Jude Chijioke
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