Thursday, October 25, 2012

"Master, I want to see."

On Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, we will hear about the healing of the blind beggar Bartimaeus. This story comes at the end of the lengthy section where Jesus predicted and explained His passion three times which His disciples failed to understand. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

This curing of a blind man is remarkable for several reasons. First of all, it is quite unusual in the gospels to give a name to the person healed. Secondly, the blind man refers to Jesus as "son of David," a clearly Messianic title, but Jesus does not correct him, as He does elsewhere in Mark's gospel. Finally, it is worth noting that this is the last miracle of Jesus in Mark's gospel prior to His death and resurrection.

Crying Out By The Roadside

Bartimaeus realizes that he is at the bottom of his society. No one has use for a blind beggar. Now, as Jesus walks by, Bartimaeus is making a nuisance of himself. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B says Christians of all ages are represented by the crowd in today's gospel who rebuked the blind man, telling him, “Quiet down, Bartimaeus. You’re embarrassing us.”

But, as Fr. Joseph Pellegrino points out, the blind beggar was not embarrassing Jesus. Christ sees him, hurts for him, calls him, has mercy on him. And then, Fr. John Foley, S.J. explains, our Lord asks the very important question: “What do you want?”

Now notice that Bartimaeus does not wear the Master down with small requests when He asks, "What do you want me to do for you?" He goes for the whole nine yards, "Master, let me see again." And he gets his wish. Fr. James Gilhooley explains to us that Mark's point is none too subtle. When you come to the Christ, do not bother Him with Lilliputian requests. Go for broke. If Jesus asks us, “What do you want,” how would we answer?

Blind But Not Blinded

In our Scripture readings we see the mystery of human affliction. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS says even Christ's disciples were not exempt. This Sunday's readings point out how Mark seems to be laboring the twelve's own spiritual blindness. But why do we humans suffer such physically terrible things? Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us what the Catechism teaches. It often takes some affliction to make a person mature, to help him discern what is not essential and to turn to what is. Affliction often provokes a search for God.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser points to the cross of Jesus and what it does in our lives. It rips away the veil the separates us from seeing inside the holy of holies. And our own crosses and humiliations can do that for us too. They can rip away a blindness and wake us up morally.

So is religion only for the weak of heart and mind? That's our very timely Burning Question for this week. The gifts of the Holy Spirit -- forgiveness, healing, purification, guidance -- all are there for the taking. Why do so many of us go to Mass again and again and walk out the door with so little healing? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says we don’t need to shout like Bartimaeus. But like him, we can determine to stop going home empty handed.

"Your faith has saved you."

The physical aspect of this healing miracle was of less importance here than what Bartimaeus did after the miracle. Having received both forgiveness for his sins and light for his eyes, Fr. Steve Porter, STL tells us the healed beggar decides to dedicate his life to Jesus. Bartimaeus became a disciple. For a disciple of Jesus, Fr. Omer Prieto reminds us, believing is seeing.

Notice too that Jesus did not go to Bartimaeus. He asked the help of others to call the blind man. This seems to be a pattern in God’s ways of dealing with us, Fr. Jim Kirtstein, SMA explains. Our Lord uses people, events often very ordinary ones to draw us to him. And how often have we behaved like those who tried to prevent Bartimaeus from seeing and meeting the Lord? Against the cries of the scoffers and cynics in our midst, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB asks, do we dare to bring our friends, colleagues and loved ones into the very presence of the Lord?

This being the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the nature of faith to the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square. His message to them: "Faith is Believing in God's Unfailing Love." Like the pope, Bartimaeus makes it clear that if faith is humble and receptive, it is not demure, shy, or reticent. Faith takes initiative. It can actually be boisterous, even outrageous at times.

Elections 2012 & Things Catholic

As the elections inch closer, Catholics are best reminded to reflect on the three non-negotiable issues as far as our faith is concerned: Life, Marriage and Religious Freedom. This important video serves as a potent reminder and it is one that should be shared with family and friends.

Many of the Catholic Church’s teachings are vilified in both the high and popular cultures, but none more than its doctrines concerning marriage and sexuality. Time and again, the Church views on sex are characterized as puritanical, life denying and hopelessly outdated — holdovers from the Bronze Age. Fr. Robert Barron offers a response to the charge of puritanism.

Meanwhile, Judith Costello reflects on abortion. It is a terrible tragedy, with huge consequences for our entire world, that some of these mothers will be counseled and encouraged to "terminate” that life. But just how do you explain abortion to a child? Judith explains. meanwhile Simcha Fisher makes no bones about it: "In case anyone's wondering, I'm going to vote for Romney." She adds that she think it's wrong to vote for Obama, and it's morally neutral but foolish to vote for a third party candidate or for no one, especially if you live in a swing state. She tells you why.

All Souls, All Saints

We begin these last months of the year by remembering our dead. November kicks off with All Saints' Day on Wednesday, followed as ever by Thursday's commemoration of the faithful departed, All Souls' Day. Mike Aquilina says by this very practice we honor them, because they themselves taught us to do it, beginning with the first generations of the Church.

To better reflect on both holy days, Rocco Palmo shares the English translations of the twin catecheses Pope Benedict XIV gave about these two days in 2008.

Halloween - Boycotts Unnecessary!

This time of year introduces several debates. Among conservative Protestants it's "Halloween or no Halloween?" which sometimes becomes "Halloween vs. Reformation Day," the latter being the celebration of the Martin Luther's posting of the 95 Theses on Oct 31.

Even some Catholics are concerned that Halloween has become "evil." We’ve all heard the allegations. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods. Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween, Father Augustine Thompson O.P. explains, are in fact very Christian and rather American.

So the next few days we will hear a lot of talk about witches, ghosts and magic. But what do Catholics really believe? Page Zyromski explains. Plus Taylor Marshall offers ten ways to keep good ol' Halloween fun and sacred. So sit back and enjoy this coming Halloween day. As Elizabeth Esther tells us why boycotts are really unnecessary!

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Is Religion for the weak of heart and mind?
FEATURED BLOG: "Test of Fire" video for Elections 2012
PASTORAL HISPANA: Necesitamos que Dios nos sane de nuestra ceguera

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