Pastor's Corner: What do you want me to do for you?
Master, I want to see.
Last updated 10/22/2021 at 7:06am
I usually try to use the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday as a source of inspiration when I have the opportunity to supply an article for the religion section of the Havre Daily News and that is what I am going to used for this week also. The Scripture readings for this Sunday come from Jeremiah 31:7-9, Hebrews 5: 1-6 and the Gospel reading is from the Gospel of Mark 10:46-52.
Jeremiah is speaking to a people who have fallen into old ways of idolatry which led to the fall of Jerusalem the exile of its leading citizens. In chapter 31 Jeremiah begins to talk about a new covenant with God. This covenant will not be like the old covenant, but it will be written on the hearts of the people and they will have a new way of seeing the Lord God and will this will lead them to great peace and consolation.
The reading from the letter to the Hebrews was addressed to a community of some of the first Jewish Christians. In its entirety its purpose was to bolster the weakening faith of this community. Surprisingly enough, their faith was not necessarily weakening from constant persecution but from the fact that no one around them seemed to find any real need to take time to hear and see the value of the Christian message. Sound a little familiar? I believe that our Christian Church communities seem to be encountering the same kind of problem.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews asks them to reflect on how they see who Jesus was and is. The author makes it clear that Jesus knows exactly what they are going through because he experienced it during his ministry, and he is the Son of God. So, the author encourages the Hebrews to hold fast to their faith and approach Jesus with faith that Jesus will provide the grace and mercy needed for them to continue in their journey of faith because Jesus is the Great High Priest.
The gospel reading for this Sunday is preceded by Jesus' third prediction of his passion and death to his disciples - and it seems to fall on deaf ears once again. Immediately following this prediction James and John ask Jesus to let them set one at his right and the other at his left as he comes into his glory. Jesus then asks them if they can drink of the cup of which he will drink (his passion which they are choosing to ignore), as well as be baptized with the baptism with which he will be baptized (his death on the cross which they are also choosing to ignore). James and John can't see who Jesus really is and how he ministers - "the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." These two stories lead us to the story of Blind Bartimaeus.
If I was to say I was formed in any particular spirituality I would have to say I was formed mostly by Jesuit or Ignatian spirituality. Because of that one of the ways I try to understand a particular scripture story is by looking at all the characters in the scripture passage and then pick one and try to understand that character's perspective in the story to help me better relate the story to my life here and now.
The characters in Mark 10: 46-52 are Jesus, Bartimaeus, and the crowd of disciples following Jesus some of whom rebuked Bartimaeus for calling out to Jesus and others who told Bartimaeus to "take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you." Who would you choose to be in this story? In my life I try my darndest to live like Jesus, but every time I try to enter into his role in a gospel story it just does not work for me. So, I am not going to choose to be Jesus in this story. When it comes to the crowd of disciples, I have probably lived much of my life rebuking others for trying to establish a relationship with Jesus because they were not going about it in the right way. At the same time, I have also spent much of my life encouraging people to take courage, get up and just go to Jesus because he (Jesus) is calling you. I could choose to spend time picking either of these perspectives of discipleship to reflect on - but not this time.
Bartimaeus' part in this story is really catching my attention. When asked what he wants by Jesus Bartimaeus replies, "Master I want to see." All Jesus says to Bartimaeus is, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." No touching, no spit or mud, just "go your way; your faith has saved you." At this Bartimaeus receives his sight and follows Jesus - into Jerusalem to his passion and death.
In light of the reading from Jeremiah and from Hebrews, both of which seem to focus on helping people to see their relationship with God in a new way. Also taking into account the gospel stories preceding todays reading; the prediction of Jesus' passion and death and the account of James and John asking for seats of power, the healing of Bartimaeus should lead me to question how I see my relationship with Jesus.
I believe that each of us will see our relationship with Jesus from our own personal perspective, and that is ok if we choose to follow Jesus on his way - not my way or your way for that matter. As Jesus pointed out in the gospel story about James and John, Jesus came to serve not to be served. That is Jesus' "way." The sight that Bartimaeus received was a physical healing of restored vision, but he also received the true vision of who Jesus is and he then chose to follow Jesus on his way. What is implied in this healing story is that Bartimaeus chose to become a servant of others. A true disciple of Jesus.
The First Principle and Foundation of Ignatian spirituality is that everything on earth is created good and remains so as long as it leads us to a loving relationship with God. The moment we choose to use something in a way that leads us away from a loving relationship with God that something is no longer good.
This would also be true concerning how we see our relationship with God. If we see our relationship with God as something that elevates us and makes us better than others, it is no longer a good relationship but has become something that separates us from the very one we hope to be closer to. If we see our relationship with God as a call to serve God and to serve God's people, it remains a good vision and will lead us to God.
As people we are well aware of the problems in the world today. I believe that if we would ask Jesus to help us see what it means to be a true disciple and we accepted that vision and truly began to live it, many of the problems in our world would be overcome. Let us pray; Jesus help us to see with your eyes. AMEN?
Deacon Tim Maroney
St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church