Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Gospel for Thursday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Katharine Drexel, Virgin (USA)

From: Mark 10:46-52

The Blind Man of Jericho

[46] And they (Jesus and His disciples) came to Jericho; and as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. [47] And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!: [48] And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all he more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" [49] And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; rise, He is calling you." [50] And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. [51] And Jesus said to him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And the blind man said to Him, "Master, let me receive my sight." [52] And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

46-52. "Hearing the commotion the crowd was making, the blind man asks, `What is happening?' They told him, `It is Jesus of Nazareth.' At this his soul was so fired with faith in Christ that he cried out, `Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'

"Don't you feel the same urge to cry out? You who are also waiting at the side of the way, of this highway of life that is so very short? You who need more light, you who need more grace to make up your mind to seek holiness? Don't you feel an urgent need to cry out, `Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me'? What a beautiful aspiration for you to repeat again and again!...

"`Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.' As people have done to you, when you sensed that Jesus was passing your way. Your heart beat faster and you too began to cry out, prompted by an intimate longing. Then your friends, the need to do the done thing, the easy life, your surroundings, all conspired to tell you: `Keep quiet, don't cry out. Who are you to be calling Jesus? Don't bother Him.'

"But poor Bartimaeus would not listen to them. He cried out all the more: `Son of David, have mercy on me.' Our Lord, who had heard him right from the beginning, let him persevere in his prayer. He does the same with you. Jesus hears our cries from the very first, but he waits. He wants us to be convinced that we need Him. He wants us to beseech Him, to persist, like the blind man waiting by the road from Jericho. `Let us imitate him. Even if God does not immediately give us what we ask, even if many people try to put us off our prayers, let us still go on praying' (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. Matthew", 66).

"`And Jesus stopped, and told them to call Him.' Some of the better people in the crowd turned to the blind man and said, `Take heart; rise, He is calling you.' Here you have the Christian vocation! But God does not call only once. Bear in mind that our Lord is seeking us at every moment: get up, He tells us, put aside your indolence, your easy life, your petty selfishness, your silly little problems. Get up from the ground, where you are lying prostrate and shapeless. Acquire height, weight and volume, and a supernatural outlook.

"And throwing off his mantle the man sprang up and came to Jesus. He threw off his mantle! I don't know if you have ever lived through a war, but many years ago I had occasion to visit a battlefield shortly after an engagement. There strewn all over the ground, were greatcoats, water bottles, haversacks stuffed with family souvenirs, letters, photographs of loved ones...which belonged, moreover, not to the vanquished but to the victors! All these items had become superfluous in the bid to race forward and leap over the enemy defenses. Just as happened to Bartimaeus, as he raced towards Christ.

"Never forget that Christ cannot be reached without sacrifice. We have to get rid of everything that gets in the way--greatcoat, haversack, water bottle. You have to do the same in this battle for the glory of God, in this struggle of love and peace by which we are trying to spread Christ's Kingdom. In order to serve the Church, the Pope and all souls, you must be ready to give up everything superfluous....

"And now begins a dialogue with God, a marvelous dialogue that moves us and sets our hearts on fire, for you and I are now Bartimaeus. Christ, who is God, begins to speak and asks, `Quid tibi vis faciam?' `What do you want Me to do for you?' The blind man answers. `Lord, that I may see.' How utterly logical! How about yourself, can you really see? Haven't you too experienced at times what happened to the blind man of Jericho? I can never forget how, when meditating on this passage many years back, and realizing that Jesus was expecting something of me, though I myself did not know what it was, I made up my own aspirations: `Lord, what is it You want! What are You asking of me'? I had a feeling that He wanted me to take on something new and the cry, `Rabboni, ut videam', `Master, that I may see,' moved me to beseech Christ again and again, `Lord, whatever it is that You wish, let it be done.'

"Pray with me now to our Lord: `doce me facere voluntatem tuam, quia Deus meus es tu" (Psalm 142:10) (`teach me to do Thy will, for You art my God'). In short, our lips should express a true desire on our part to correspond effectively to our Creator's promptings, striving to follow out His plans with unshakeable faith, being fully convinced that He cannot fail us....

"But let us go back to the scene outside Jericho. It is now to you that Christ is speaking. He asks you, `What do you want Me to do for you?' `Master, let me receive my sight.' Then Jesus answers, `Go your way. Your faith has made you well.' And immediately he received his sight and followed Him on His way." Following Jesus on His way. You have understood what our Lord was asking to from you and you have decided to accompany Him on His way. You are trying to walk in His footsteps, to clothe yourself in Christ's clothing, to be Christ Him- self: well, your faith, your faith in the light our Lord is giving you, must be both operative and full of sacrifice. Don't fool yourself. Don't think you are going to find new ways. The faith He demands of us is as I have said. We must keep in step with Him, working generously and at the same time uprooting and getting rid of everything that gets in the way" (St. J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 195-198).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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