30th Sunday of Year B

Commentary Excerpts (PDF)

SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.

Key Points to the Readings

Jeremiah 31:7-9

The Lord has delivered his people.

  • In the first reading, Jeremiah proclaims God’s intention to bring the chosen people back from exile in Babylon.
  • The most vulnerable people are given honor on this triumphant journey.
  • These people, who know their only hope is God, will return with joyful shouting.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

Hebrews 5:1-6

You are my son.

  • In the Letter to the Hebrews, the author stresses that even Jesus, the Son of God, did not take the office of high priest upon himself.
  • Jesus accepted a call that was initiated by God.
  • The most compelling aspects of Jesus’ priestly ministry are his compassion for, and his identity with the people he serves.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

Mark 10:46-52

I want to see.

  • Earlier in the Gospel of Mark there is a story of an unnamed blind man, whom Jesus heals in stages.
  • In today’s Gospel, Jesus cures the blind man named Bartimaeus immediately.
  • The two stories reveal that the struggle to know the Lord, and the journey of faith, is life long.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.


Bartimaeus Regained His Sight and Followed Him on the Way

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Thought for the Day

The journey towards faith has many dimensions. Firstly, there is our need (expressed in the Gospel as blindness). Secondly, the courage to name our need, even in the face of opposition. Next comes our encounter with Jesus and our cry for help, guidance, healing. Naming our need is insisted upon by Jesus as an essential step, because faith is so much more than believing lots of doctrines. More fundamentally, it is an act of trust, a putting of myself in relationship and being able to receive from God whatever it is we need. This is the faith which makes us well.


And the blind man says, “Master, let me receive my sight.”

Okay, so another interesting dimension here is the address that the man gives. Bartimaeus calls Jesus master. Now it’s a little unfortunate here that the Revised Standard Version translates this as master, because the Greek word for master is actually despotēs. We get the word despot from that. It’s the idea of a slave master. But that’s not the word Bartimaeus actually uses here. The Greek word here is rabbouni, which is an Aramaic version of Rabbi, which more properly translated means my teacher. The reason I bring up that difference is because rabbouni has a personal dimension to it, it literally means my teacher. So by calling Jesus rabbouni, he isn’t just saying master, he’s saying my teacher, I want to see. So he’s affirming a personal relationship with Christ. So it’s not just hey you’re the Messiah, you’re the king objectively, but subjectively he is putting himself under Jesus’ tutelage, he’s saying my teacher, my Rabbi, I want to see. There’s an implicit faith in that title of Rabbi or rabbouni. Jesus responds to that and says, “Go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Then, finally, Mark’s favorite expression immediately, euthus in Greek. Immediately, immediately, immediately. We’ve been walking through this gospel all these weeks now and you see Mark over and over again say Jesus immediately did and immediately he did that and immediately he did this. Euthus, euthus, euthus in Greek. Right here, same thing. Immediately he received his sight and then he followed him on the way.

Last element there, followed him on the way. What does that mean? Well hodos in Greek is just the word for a path or a way or a road. So on one level what does that mean? Jesus was going on the road out of Jericho, he meets Bartimaeus, he heals him, and now Bartimaeus starts to walk with Jesus. He follows Jesus. He becomes a disciple of Jesus. However, there’s also a deeper possible meaning when you remember that the word the way was one of the earliest names for the church in the Book of Acts. So in Acts 4 it speaks about Jerusalem authorities persecuting those who belong to the way, hodos in Greek, same thing, the path. This was just one of the terms that were used for the church. Sometimes called church, sometimes called the way, sometimes it’s called the Nazarene, sometimes Christians. There are all these different names, and in this case, though it’s an evocative term, because if you are asking Jews about the way or the road, another connotation would be the road through the desert at the time of the exodus, when God made a path in the wilderness. So there are two ways in the Bible. There’s the way or the path of the exodus under Moses, and then there’s the way or the path of the new exodus under Jesus. So we’ve mentioned before this theme of the new exodus in the Gospel of Mark at different points, like Jesus going out into the desert for 40 days at the opening of the gospel, just like Israel was in the desert at the time of the exodus. We saw Jesus talk about the Son of Man giving his life as a ransom for a multitude of people, just like God ransomed the multitude 600,000 Israelites from slavery to Pharaoh at the time of the exodus. So you got all these exodus images swirling around beneath the surface of Mark’s gospel. Well here’s one more. The new exodus, the new path, the new way that we’re all called out of bondage and called to journey into is the way of discipleship. It’s the way of following the Lord.



30th Sunday of Year B

Healing the Blind and Restoring the Faithful Remnant


In the First Reading, God gives Jeremiah a prophecy of a joyful procession of the faithful remnant of God’s covenant people returning to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile. Persian King Cyrus historically fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy when he allowed the covenant people to return to their homeland in the late 6th-century BC. However, Isaiah’s prophecy has a greater fulfillment in Jesus Christ. His mission was to redeem the people of God from their spiritual exile, welcoming the faithful remnant back to a fruitful relationship with the Divine. Jesus called the new Israel of His disciples and Apostles and all the others from the ends of the earth who had come to believe in Him, the Davidic Messiah, in His universal (catholic) Kingdom of the Church, in anticipation of their homeward journey to the heavenly Jerusalem.

The Responsorial Psalm is one of the “Songs of Ascent” that the faithful of Zion sang on the journey up to Jerusalem to celebrate the God-ordained pilgrim feasts. The faithful covenant people came to Jerusalem from wherever they were living in Gentile nations, like the Jews in AD 30 who traveled to Jerusalem from distant regions of the Roman Empire to attend the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost (Acts 2:9-10). Upon arriving at the holy city, the pilgrims in the psalm reading remembered and relived the joy felt by the returning remnant of Israel from the Babylonian exile in the 6th-century BC. They petitioned God to bring back all exiles to have them share in that same joy.

In the Second Reading, the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews proclaims that the Messianic son of David is the Son of God promised in the Psalms (Ps 2:7; 110:1-2). He is a priest-king like God’s representative at the beginning of salvation history, the priest-king Melchizedek (Ps 11:4), who blessed God’s chosen, the faithful Abraham, and made the sacrificial offering of bread and wine (Gen 14:18). Jesus, our covenant mediator and compassionate High Priest of the heavenly Sanctuary, offered Himself in the sacrifice on the altar of the Cross. In His ongoing sacrifice, He continues to bless the faithful, giving Himself in the bread and wine that becomes His Body and Blood for God’s chosen people in the “thanksgiving” meal of the Eucharist.

The First Reading anticipates the Gospel Reading where Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus of Jericho. Ironically, many who saw Jesus and His mighty works failed to recognize Him as the promised Messiah. However, Bartimaeus, even in his physical blindness, had the faith and spiritual insight to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, the son and heir of the kingdom promised to David (2 Sam 7:12-16; Is 11:1-5, 10-13; Jer 23:5; Ez 34:23; 37:25b-28).

Bartimaeus is a symbol of the faithful remnant of God’s people. The preservation of the “faithful remnant” is a Biblical theme found throughout the books of the Old Testament.  Like Jesus’s disciples, they are the faithful few not blinded by the power of sin but recognize God and His works. Jesus came to restore spiritual sight to God’s people by forgiving the sins that blinded them to the deeds of God. Jesus came to bring them back from the exile of sin to a new relationship with God in His Kingdom of the Church. In recognizing the Messiah, the “faithful remnant” became the people of Zion we sing about in today’s Psalm Reading. Bartimaeus acknowledged that God had done great things for him, and his tears of suffering were turned into tears of joy as he began a new life by following Jesus “on the way” that would take him to the gates of Heaven.

All baptized believers have also been redeemed by Jesus our Savior, becoming the “faithful remnant” of His universal Kingdom. He frees all who believe in Him from the darkness of the exile that sin causes in our relationship with God, and He shows us the path to our homecoming in the heavenly Jerusalem.  All we need to do is to continue to follow Him “on the way.”



God’s Deliverance

7 Thus says the LORD: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say, The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. 8 Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; 9 they shall return as an immense throng. They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my firstborn.

Before Jerusalem’s destruction and the exile of the population of Judah into Babylon in 587/6 BC, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied the divine judgment of a 70-year exile for the people (Jer 25:11-12; 29:10). In this passage, he promises that after 70 years of atonement for their sins of rebellion, God will have mercy on His people, and He will return them to their homeland. Not only will God bring back the exiles of Judah, but He will also bring back the descendants of the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim) sent into exile by the Assyrians in the 8th-century BC. God will gather unto Himself a people from the “ends of the world,” including the physically disabled and most vulnerable.

The Kingdom of Jesus Christ fulfills the prophecy of Jeremiah’s promised deliverance. Jesus is the promised Davidic heir sent to shepherd God’s covenant people (i.e., Jer 23:5-6; Ez 34:23-26). During His ministry, Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophecies. He healed the blind, the lame, the deaf, and the spiritually disabled (Is 35:5-6; Mt 11:5; Lk 7:22). In His universal Church, Jesus also established the everlasting kingdom God promised King David and Daniel the prophet (2 Sam 7:16, 29; Dan 2:44) in His Universal Church. This deliverance was revealed to Simeon when he held baby Jesus in the Temple. Simeon joyfully proclaimed: “for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have made ready in the sight of the nations; a light of revelation for the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel” (Lk 2:30-32).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.



God’s Mighty Works

Response: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126 is one of the “Songs of Ascent” that pilgrims sang on the journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the God-ordained annual pilgrim feasts. They traveled to Jerusalem from different nations where they lived, like the Jews in AD 30 who traveled to Jerusalem from distant parts of the Roman Empire to attend the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost in Acts 2:9-10. Upon arriving at the holy city, the pilgrims remembered and relived the joy felt by the returning remnant of Israel from the Babylonian exile (verses 1-2; also see 2 Chr 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-5; 2:1). They gave thanks to God for His great work of kindness in bringing the exiles home to Jerusalem in the 6th-century BC (the “them” in verse 2) and for bringing the pilgrims safely to Jerusalem (the “us” in verse 3).

Next, the returning people petitioned God to “restore our fortunes” and compared His blessings to the abundant rain He sends to awaken the desert. They ask that those who suffer (“sow in tears”) will experience rejoicing in a fruitful harvest of God’s blessings. The last two verses are probably a symbolic reference to the painful work of life that God will crown with His salvation those who remain faithful until the harvest of souls into God’s storehouse in Heaven

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.



Christ our Compassionate High Priest

Brothers and sisters: 1 Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness 3 and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. 4 No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.  5 In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: “You are my son: this day I have begotten you”; 6 just as he said in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

On the two previous Sundays, we had readings from the Letter to the Hebrews. In today’s passage, the inspired writer again refers to the Jewish High Priest who officiated in the Liturgy of Worship in God’s Jerusalem Temple. He represented the people in a covenant relationship with God by offering gifts and sacrifices. However, that human representative is no longer needed since God has ordained a new High Priest. Our priestly representative serves in the heavenly Temple where an earthbound life does not limit His priestly service. Jesus Christ is the High Priest of the New Covenant faithful. He exercises His priesthood by continually offering His sacrificial death on the Cross as an unblemished sacrificial gift that pleads for mercy for all humanity.

God, in His mercy, intended for the Old Covenant as well as the New that the covenant mediator who serves in the role of High Priest should possess human nature to lead the people to salvation with an understanding of and sympathy for the struggles the faithful must wage against the temptation to sin. Thus, in the Old Covenant Church, the High Priest’s role was to act as the covenant representative of the “people of God.” In the same way, Jesus Christ, who is fully human and Divine, serves as our compassionate High Priest, continually interceding for us at the altar of the heavenly Temple.

to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
The duties of a priest included offering sacrifices on behalf of the people and for himself. In the age of the Patriarchs, every father in covenant with Yahweh and his sons served a priestly role, offering sacrifices to Yahweh. For example, Cain and Abel presented sacrificial offerings in Genesis 4:3-5; Noah offered sacrifices in Genesis 8:20; Abraham in Genesis 15; 22:13; Jacob/Israel in Genesis 31:54 and 46:1; etc. But with the formation of the corporate covenant at Mt. Sinai with the children of Israel, for the first time, God established an ordained priesthood through one father, Aaron. In this section, the inspired writer contrasts Christ’s eternal priesthood with the priesthood established at Mt. Sinai through Aaron (the brother of Moses) and his descendants. The Aaronic priesthood continued through his sons and their descendants, lasting only the duration of their earthly lives (Ex 28:1-2).  However, in the New Covenant in Christ Jesus, God established a new and eternal priestly order in Jesus that harkens back to before the Sinai Covenant to the priesthood of God’s representative, the priest-king Melchizedek.

In the New Covenant, Christ Himself becomes both the sacrificial victim and High Priest. Sins are no longer simply “covered” by the blood of the sacrifice as they were in the old covenants. Now, in the New Covenant, atonement becomes “complete cleansing” through the expiation of sin by the sacrifice of the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (as St. John the Baptist identified Jesus in John 1:29, also see Jn 1:36). Expiation means: “Atonement for some wrongdoing.  It implies an attempt to undo the wrong that one has done by suffering a penalty, by performing some penance, or by making reparation or redress. Etym. Latin ex -, fully + piare, to propitiate: expiare, to atone for fully” (Catholic Dictionary, page 139).

New Testament Scripture identifies Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross as the act of atonement for the sins of humanity:

  • When he had accomplished purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:3).
  • They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God—to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:24-26).
  • and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins…Romans 11:27
  • he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul are a minister (Col 1:22-23).
  • In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7).
  • Therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people (Heb 2:17).

God reconciles us and the world to Himself through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus the Messiah: And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ (2 Cor 5:18). We become reconciled with God for our sins by the offering of Jesus’s perfect sacrifice on the altar of the Cross, which the Father has accepted:

  • Our reconciliation is the reason God the Father has sent Him: He is expiation (atonement) for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world (1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).
  • God sent Him as a sin sacrifice and the means of reconciliation in His precious blood: They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed (Rom 3:24-25).

In Jesus’s perfect sacrifice, He has made it possible to cleanse us of all sins:  Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God (2 Cor 7:1).

Unlike the Old Covenant priesthood, our High Priest, Jesus Christ, is both the means (sacrifice) and the agent (offerer) of atonement as the representative of humankind and the agent of reconciliation. This concept of the atoning work of Christ and God’s response is one of the major themes of the Letter to the Hebrews. The Letter to the Hebrews compares Jesus’s role as both High Priest and perfect sacrifice with the priesthood and sacrifice of the High Priest Aaron. Aaron performed the act of atonement for the people of God in the old Sinai Covenant by offering a blood sacrifice just as Jesus as our High Priest offers the sacrifice in atonement for the sins of humanity.

2 He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness 3 and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.  4 No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
The inspired writer already introduced the necessity of a priest to sympathize with the struggles of the people in Hebrews 4:15. He wrote concerning Jesus’s role as high priest: For 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. The role of the High Priest wasn’t to be a harsh judge; his role was to be a sympatric mediator.  God expected His High Priest to be merciful to sinners because he faced temptations by the same sins. For this reason, the High Priest needed to make sins offerings for himself and the people. Jesus in His humanity experienced our same struggles, and He understands our weaknesses since He was Himself tested, but Jesus is the perfect High Priest because He never sinned. St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote that Jesus offered “his life as a model of saintly existence to be used by earthly beings, he took on the weaknesses of humanity, and what was his purpose in doing this?  That we might truly believe that he became man, although he remained what he was, namely God” (Letter to Euopitus, Anathema 10).

5 In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: “You are my son: this day I have begotten you”; 6 just as he said in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
In Hebrews 5:5, the inspired writer quotes twice from Scripture: first from Psalm 2:7, You are my son, this day I have begotten you, which he also quoted in Hebrews 1:5, and then from Psalm 110:4, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, the psalms which he previously quoted in Hebrews 1:13. However, in that passage, he quoted Psalm 110:1, Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.  Although Psalm 110 is the most quoted verse from the Psalms in the New Testament, the inspired writer of Hebrews is the only writer to quote from verse 4 in this passage and again in 7:17 and 21. The writer of Hebrews will invoke the name “Melchizedek” eight times in the Book of Hebrews, five times in Chapter 7 alone (see 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 10, 11, 15 and 17). In Sacred Scripture, there are eleven references to this ancient priest of “God the Most High” (Old Testament references = Genesis 14:18 and Psalm 110:4; New Testament references = Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 10, 11, 15, 17, 21).

Twice in this passage, the writer of Hebrews compares Jesus’s ministry to the priestly order of God’s priest-king Melchizedek, which came before the Aaronic priesthood. First by quoting from Psalm 110:4 in verse 6 and then a second time in verse 10. Melchizedek or “Melek-zedek” in Hebrew means “king of righteousness”; it was a title and not a proper name (Hebrew “king” = melek; “righteous” = zedek or sedek).

Genesis Chapter 14 identifies Melchizedek as God’s priest-king of Salem (Shalom = peace), a settlement on Mt. Moriah which was later called jireh-salem (“will provide peace”) or Jerusalem (Gen 22:14; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 1.10.2). The first mention of “Jerusalem” appears in Joshua 10:1-3, in which the king of Jerusalem’s throne name appears as “Lord of Righteousness” or Adonai-zedek. Jerusalem will become the place that God prepared for His people to worship Him and the “dwelling place for His name” (Ex 23:20; Dt 12:5-9, 11-12).

Genesis 14:17-20 reveals Melek-zedek/Mechizedek’s relationship to Abram/Abraham. Abram acknowledges Melchizedek’s authority over him by paying a tithe and receiving Melchizedek’s priestly blessing together with bread and wine. Church Father, St. Clement of Alexandria, wrote of this significant encounter between Abram and the priest-king of Salem: “For Salem is, by interpretation, peace; of which our Savior is enrolled King, as Moses says, Melchizedek king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who gave bread and wine, furnishing consecrated food for a type of the Eucharist. And Melchizedek is interpreted “righteous king”; and the name is a synonym for righteousness and peace” (Stromateis 4.25). And St. Jerome also understood the offering of bread and wine as a prefiguring the “thanksgiving” communion of the Eucharist. He wrote: “And as to the Scripture which says, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” our mystery is foreshown in the word “order”; not at all, indeed, in the sacrifice of non-rational victims through Aaron’s agency, but when bread and wine, that is the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, were offered in sacrifice” (St. Jerome, Hebrew Questions on Genesis 14.18-19).

In addition to Genesis 14, Biblical references to Melchizedek appear in Psalm 110:4; Heb 5:5-10; 6:20 and 7:1-17 (seven times in the Letter to the Hebrews). Also, see references identifying Shem as God’s “king of rightesousness,” Melchizedek, in the 1st century BC and AD Aramaic Targums found at Qumran among the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave I.  Those ancient writings identify Noah’s righteous firstborn son, Shem, as Melchizedek, a common belief when the inspired writer (believed to be St. Paul) wrote the Letter to the Hebrews. The footnotes of the modern Jewish Tanakh identify Shem as Melchizedek. St. Ephraim, the 4th-century Doctor of the Church, believed Melchizedek was the throne name of Noah’s righteous son Shem, chosen to succeed his father as covenant mediator (Gen 9:26-27). St. Ephraim wrote: “This Melchizedek is Shem, who became a king due to his greatness; he was the head of fourteen nations. In addition, he was a priest. He received this from Noah, his father, through the rights of succession. Shem lived not only to the time of Abraham, as Scripture says, but even to the time of Jacob and Esau, the grandsons of Abraham” (St. Ephraim, Teaching on Genesis 14:18-20). Abraham was a descendant of Shem (Gen 11:10-27).

The Letter to the Hebrews offers Melchizedek as a figure who prefigured Jesus, the priest-king of the New Covenantal order.  The Catechism records: “The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, ‘priest of God Most High,’ as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique ‘high priest after the order of Melchizedek,’  ‘holy, blameless, unstained,’ ‘by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,’ that is by the unique sacrifice of the cross” (CCC# 1544).

Finally, the Church teaches that the King of Righteousness offering bread and wine to Abraham in Genesis 14:18 prefigures our righteous priest-king’s offering of Himself to the Church in the Most Holy Eucharist, an offering He first made at the Last Supper (Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:19-20). In addition, “The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who “brought out bread and wine,” a prefiguring of her own offering” (CCC# 1333).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.



Jesus Heals Bartimaeus

46 They came to Jericho.  And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.  47 On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”  48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”  49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.”  50 He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.  51 Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”  The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”  52 Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Jesus and His disciples traveled southward down the length of the east side of the Jordan River and came to the river’s ford across from the city of Jericho. What is historically significant about this ford across the Jordan River is that it is the place where Joshua and the children of the Twelve Tribes of Israel crossed the Jordan River to begin the conquest of the Promised Land (see Josh 3:1, 16). Jesus is the new Joshua (their names are the same in Hebrew). He and His Twelve Apostles are the spiritual fathers of the “new Israel,” who are beginning a “conquest” that will establish the Kingdom of the Church and open the gates to the Promised Land of Heaven.

46b And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.
St. Mark explains to his Greco-Roman audience the Aramaic meaning of the patronymic by which he identifies the poor, blind beggar in verse 46b. Bar means “son” in Aramaic (the word for “son” in Hebrew is ben). Mark does not give the man’s personal name, but he is the only Gospel writer who identifies the blind man from Jericho by any name, even a surname. Bartimaeus is the only person Jesus healed that St. Mark names in his Gospel. Some Bible scholars suggest he was still alive and known in the Church when St. Mark wrote his Gospel.

47 On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”
The way Bartimaeus addresses Jesus is significant. He identifies Jesus as the Davidic Messiah promised by the prophet Ezekiel to restore and heal the nation of Israel (see Ez 34:23-24; 37:21-24). You might ask how this man from Jericho knows enough about Jesus to believe that He is the Davidic Messiah. St. Mark concentrates about two-thirds of his Gospel narrative on Jesus’s mission in the northern region of what was once the Northern Kingdom of ancient Israel. However, we also know from St. John’s Gospel that Jesus attended the God-ordained pilgrim feasts (Ex 23:14-15; 34:18-24; Dt 16:16; 2 Chr 8:13). He, therefore, must have made those three trips to Jerusalem each of the years of His ministry for the pilgrim feasts of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (see Jn 2:13; 7:2, 10, 14; 12:1).  St. John also records that Jesus attended the national feast of Dedicated (Hanukkah) in John 10:22-23, which was not a feast that required national attendance. Therefore, it is possible that Jesus, the perfect Jew, attended all seven annual festivals every year in addition to the national feasts of Dedication/Hanukkah and Purim. If this is the case, the people of Judah had many opportunities to hear Jesus preach.

50 He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
The blind man threw off his cloak; it is probably the one item of value he owned, but nothing would hinder him from immediate access to Jesus the Messiah. Jesus asked him what he wanted; the response is in itself a profession of his faith, and therefore, Jesus tells him: “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

52b Immediately, he received his sight and followed him on the way.
Once again, Mark’s favorite word, “immediately” [eutheus], instills a sense of urgency. Bartimaeus follows Jesus “on the way” to discipleship, Jerusalem, and becoming a witness to Jesus’s Passion, death, and Resurrection. And at the end of his life, he will follow Jesus to the Promised Land of Heaven.

In the story of Bartimaeus, Mark has continued with his subtheme of “hearing and seeing” in the deaf to whom Jesus restores hearing and the blind to whom He restores sight in fulfillment of what the prophets foretold about the Messiah (i.e., Mk 4:9, 12, 18, 20, 23, 24, 33; 7:16, 37; 8:18, 35, 22, 25). Yet, many people continued to be both deaf and blind to His true identity its meaning (also fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah in 6:9-10). Yet, the unique greeting Bartimaeus gave Jesus in Mark 10:47-48, identifying Him as the son of David, is ironic. It is the same greeting other blind men gave Jesus in the other Gospels (Mt 9:27; ; Lk 18:38-38) and the same greeting as the Gentile woman Jesus complimented on her faith and then healed her daughter in Matthew 15:22. The irony is the blind men who could not see Jesus’s miraculous acts and a Gentile woman who was not a member of the covenant people are the only ones outside the disciples who acknowledge Jesus’s true identity as the “son of David” and the Messianic son of the Davidic kingdom.

Those who are “blind” and remain “outsiders” are those who witnessed Jesus’s miracles and prophetic acts, and still did not acknowledge His true identity. In healing Bartimaeus, not only were his physical eyes “opened,” but he also had the opportunity to have his spiritual vision confirmed in recognizing the Messiah. Unfortunately, this same spiritual blindness that afflicted the people who refused to acknowledge Jesus as the promised Messiah in the 1st– century AD is present today in 21st-century men and women who persist in rejecting Jesus’s gift of love and salvation by ignoring His invitation to “follow Me.”

We are all called, like Jesus’s disciples and Bartimaeus, “to follow Him on the way.” It requires taking Him as our pattern, receiving nourishment from His grace, and letting Him be the ransom for our sins. In the sacrifice of the Mass, we partake in His sacrifice and His Resurrection. When the priest says Jesus’s words of consecration, time as we know it becomes suspended. Suddenly we are present at the Last Supper when Jesus began His walk to the Cross as He fed the faithful the bread that became His Body and the wine that became His Blood. In the Eucharistic procession, we move forward to the altar, we receive the Body and Blood of the glorified, resurrected Christ, and we proclaim to the world that we live with Him and for Him in the new life He gave us when we first experienced the Sacrament of Christian baptism.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

30th Sunday of Year B

SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

Preaching the Lectionary

by Reginald H. Fuller

Mark names the blind man, while Matthew and Luke drop the name.


The Terror of Love

by John Kavanaugh, SJ

God wants us to shout for joy. We are delivered, gently gathered from the ends of the earth, with all the others of our motley kind.


The Blind Beggar

by John J. Pilch

Jesus the folk healer is located by his would-be client in the royal lineage of David.



by Dennis Hamm, SJ

Even after we learn the basic physical skills of seeing, we continue to learn how to see.


Keep on Asking

by John Foley, SJ

I have always loved to be included in a team. Nobody perfect, yet everyone having a special place.


What Do You Want?

by Eleonore Stump

What does Bartimaeus’s receiving his sight have to do his being saved?


Justice Will Abide

by Gerald Darring

What do the people of the world want us Christians to do for them? Can we bring them home and lead them out of exile?

Ideas for General Intercessions

by Joe Milner

Ideas designed to be starting points for the prayers of a particular community of faith.

SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

30th Sunday of Year B


A Joyful Picture of Recovery

JEREMIAH 31:1-40 God paints a joyful picture of recovery, with all the elements of repentance, sorrow, forgiveness, laughter, restoration, and hope. Once again God’s people would follow his plan for them, and he would receive their worship and praise. We can experience this kind of restoration, too. We start the process by admitting our need for God’s healing power in our life. God desires to rebuild his relationship with each of us, no matter how far we have strayed from him. He delights in finding new ways to exhibit his love to those who belong to him.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.


Our Tears will Return to Joy

PSALM 126:1-6  This psalm was written in response to the return of the Jewish exiles from captivity. God enabled his people to recover from their many sins by leading them through a period of painful exile. During this exile, they confessed their sins and returned to God. Then God allowed them to return to their homeland. This can be our story too. As we experience God’s restoration, our tears will turn to joy and we can sing our own songs of praise. Change never comes overnight, but God promises to complete the transformation in our life when the time is right.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.


Jesus is with Us in every Step We Take

HEBREWS 5:4-10 Like any high priest, Jesus Christ had to be chosen for his role. But Christ was a different priest from the Jewish priests descended from Aaron. Jesus is the final (and eternal) High Priest in the line of Melchizedek (see 7:1-21; Psalm 110:4). To prepare for that unique calling, Jesus, the perfect High Priest (see Hebrews 13:8), had to go through a painful growing and learning process (see Luke 2:52) that culminated in his death on the cross. His success in that process lends us great hope as we pursue recovery. He is the one who goes before us and has prepared the way, and he is with us in every step we take.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.


Jesus has the Power and the Desire to Help Us

MARK 10:46-52 Faith brought sight to blind Bartimaeus. He persevered in faith despite the initial opposition he experienced from Jesus’ followers. In Jesus’ day, blindness was considered a divine curse for sin (see John 9:2), but Jesus refuted this notion by both word and deed. We sometimes face opposition in our recovery process. Sometimes those who claim to be God’s people reject us and make us feel unwelcome because we are trapped by our dependency. Even when others reject us, we can be sure that Jesus will never turn us away. We should persevere like Bartimaeus did, knowing that Jesus has the power and the desire to help us overcome our besetting weaknesses.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.


Bartimaeus’ Faith

A Call to Faith

On Jesus’ instruction, someone tells the blind man that he is being summoned. Whoever carries the call sounds like Jesus Himself, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you” (v. 49). “Be of good cheer” is an appeal to emotions that Bartimaeus thought were gone forever. He has heard “Cheer up” before from callous people who tossed it into his face rather than throwing a coin into his begging blanket. Never before has he heard words of encouragement combined with the command, “Rise.” A serious call to faith requires an act of will as well as a word of hope. The information, then, that “He is calling you” (v. 49) tests the level of Bartimaeus’s cognitive skills. In his past experience, no one has ever responded to his call, except to demand silence. Perhaps even now, he thinks, a cruel hoax is in the making. Raw intelligence and refined intuition, however, tell Bartimaeus the truth. As a blind beggar, he has no place to go but up. The risk is minimal. As simple as it seems, the call to “Look up, get up, and go up” defines faith as an act of hope based upon limited information.

A Show of Faith

If ever a person enthusiastically demonstrates a holistic show of faith, Bartimaeus does. Feeling for feeling, will for will, mind for mind, he answers the call from Jesus. In response to the word of encouragement, “Be of good cheer” (v. 49), he goes a step further to the daring act of throwing aside the ragged garment that serves functionally to catch coins and symbolically as a sign of his beggarliness. Equally bold, on the command, “Rise,” he abandons his sitting position as a beggar by springing up and standing like a man. Posture always gives clues to self-esteem. Never again will Bartimaeus be looked down upon as the scum of the earth. As Job responded to God’s challenge, Bartimaeus stands ready to answer as a man.

To complete his show of faith, Bartimaeus comes to Jesus. All of his life, the blind beggar has counted on others to lead and feed him. If he still needed help, Peter would have remembered it and Mark would have reported it. No. Although still blind, Bartimaeus walks out his own Emancipation Proclamation. What a sight it must have been to see the crowd open a path for Bartimaeus as he comes to Jesus! In one sense, faith has already made him a whole man. His feelings, his will, and his mind are healed.

The Result of Faith

Jesus meets the ready faith of Bartimaeus with the open-ended question, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (v. 51). Not long before, James and John had asked Him to grant them whatsoever they asked. The difference between Bartimaeus’s answer and the disciples’ request is the difference between faith and ambition. Faith asks for needs; ambition begs for wants. Bartimaeus needed his sight; James and John wanted the places of honor in the coming kingdom of God.

Jesus exempted Himself from responding to the disciples’ wants, but He wastes no time in meeting Bartimaeus’ need. “Go your way; your faith has made you well” (v. 52) not only gives instant sight to a blind man, but recognizes the total healing of a person with a ready faith. Spiritually free, physically sound, and humanly dignified, Bartimaeus is pronounced “well” and “whole.”

Mark reinforces the total healing of Bartimaeus by bringing the story full cycle in the conclusion, “And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road” (v. 52). A beggar becomes a disciple and a squatter becomes a pilgrim—living, seeing, walking, and singing proof that Jesus is Servant and Savior.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THe Preacher’s Commentary, Complete 35-Volume Set: Genesis–Revelation offers pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders clear and compelling insights into the entire Bible that will equip them to understand, apply, and teach the truth in God’s Word.

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30th Sunday of Year B

MARK 10:46–52

46. And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, sat by the highway side begging.

47. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

48. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

49. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

50. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

51. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

52. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.


Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria


JEROME. The name of the city agrees with the approaching Passion of our Lord; for it is said, And they came to Jericho. Jericho means moon or anathema; but the failing of the flesh of Christ is the preparation of the heavenly Jerusalem. It goes on: And as he went out of Jericho with his disciples, and a great number of people, blind Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, sat by the wayside begging.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Matthew says, that there were two blind men sitting by the wayside, who cried to the Lord, and received their sight; but Luke relates that one blind man was enlightened by Him, with a like order of circumstances, as He was going into Jericho; where no one, at least no wise man, will suppose that the Evangelists wrote things contrary to one another, but that one wrote more fully, what another has left out. We must therefore understand that one of them was the more important, which appears from this circumstance, that Mark has related his name and the name of his father.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. ii. 65) It is for this reason that Mark wished to relate his case alone, because his receiving his sight had gained for the miracle a fame, illustrious in proportion to the extent of the knowledge of his affliction. But although Luke relates a miracle done entirely in the same way, nevertheless we must understand that a similar miracle was wrought on another blind man, and a similar method of the same miracle. It goes on: And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The blind man calls the Lord, the Son of David, hearing the way in which the passing multitude praised Him, and feeling sure that the expectation of the prophets was fulfilled. There follows: And many charged him that he should hold his peace.t

ORIGEN. (in Matt. tom. xvi. 13) As if he said, Those who were foremost in believing rebuked him when he cried, Thou Son of David, that he might hold his peace, and cease to call Him by a contemptible name, when he ought to say, Son of God, have pity upon me. He however did not cease; wherefore it goes on: But he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me; and the Lord heard his cry; wherefore there follows: And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. But observe, that the blind man, of whom Luke speaks, is inferior to this one; for neither did Jesus call him, nor order him to be called, but He commanded him to be brought to Him, as though unable to come by himself; but this blind man by the command of our Lord is called to Him. Wherefore it goes on: And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise, he calleth thee; but he casting away his garment, comes to Him. It goes on: And he casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. Perchance, the garment of the blind man means the veil of blindness and poverty, with which he was surrounded, which he cast away and came to Jesus; and the Lord questions him, as he is approaching. Wherefore there follows: And Jesus answered and said unto him, What will thou that I should do unto thee.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Could He who was able to restore sight be ignorant of what the blind man wanted? His reason then for asking is that prayer may be made to Him; He puts the question, to stir up the blind man’s heart to pray.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. in Matt. 66) Or He asks, lest men should think that what He granted the man was not what he wanted. For it was His practice to make the good disposition of those who were to be cured known to all men, and then to apply the remedy, in order to stir up others to emulation, and to shew that he who was to be cured was worthy to obtain the grace. It goes on: The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

BEDE. For the blind man looks down upon every gift except light, because, whatever a blind man may possess, without light he cannot see what he possesses.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But Jesus, considering his ready will, rewards him with the fulfilment of his desire.

ORIGEN. (ubi sup.) Again, it is more worthy to say Rabboni, or, as it is in other places, Master, than to say Son of David; wherefore He gives him health, not on his saying, Son of David, but when he said Rabboni. Wherefore there follows: And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him in the way.

THEOPHYLACT. The mind of the blind man is grateful, for when he was made whole, he did not leave Jesus, but followed Him.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) In a mystical sense, however, Jericho, which means the moon, points out the waning of our fleeting race. The Lord restored sight to the blind man, when drawing near to Jericho, because coming in the flesh and drawing near to His Passion, He brought many to the faith; for it was not in the first years of His Incarnation, but in the few years before He suffered, that He shewed the mystery of the Word to the world.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But the blindness in part, brought upon the Jews, will in the end be enlightened when He sends unto them the Prophet Elias. (Rom. 11:25)

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Now in that on approaching Jericho, He restored sight to one man, and on quitting it to two, He intimated, that before His Passion He preached only to one nation, the Jews, but after His resurrection and ascension, through His Apostles He opened the mysteries both of His Divinity and His Humanity to Jews and Gentiles. Mark indeed, in writing that one received his sight, refers to the saving of the Gentiles, that the figure might agree with the salvation of those, whom he instructed in the faith; but Matthew, who wrote his Gospel to the faithful among the Jews, because it was also to reach the knowledge of the Gentiles, fitly says that two received their sight, that He might teach us that the grace of faith belonged to each people. Therefore, as the Lord was departing with His disciples and a great multitude from Jericho, the blind man was sitting, begging by the way-side; that is, when the Lord ascended into heaven, and many of the faithful followed Him, yea when all the elect from the beginning of the world entered together with Him the gate of heaven,u, presently the Gentile people began to have hope of its own illumination; for it now sits begging by the wayside, because it has not entered upon and reached the path of truth.

PSEUDO-JEROME. The people of the Jews also, because it kept the Scriptures and did not fulfil them, begs and starves by the wayside; but he cries out, Son of David, have mercy upon me, because the Jewish people is enlightened by the merits of the Prophets. Many rebuke him that he may hold his peace, that is, sins and devils restrain the cry of the poor; and he cried the more, because when the battle waxes great, hands are to be lifted up with crying to the Rock of help, that is, Jesus of Nazareth.

BEDE. Again, the people of the Gentiles, having heard of the fame of the name of Christ, sought to be made a partaker of Him, but many spoke against Him, first the Jews, then also the Gentiles, lest the world which was to be enlightened should call upon Christ. The fury of those who attacked Him, however, could not deprive of salvation those who were fore-ordained to life. And He heard the blind man’s cry as He was passing, but stood when He restored his sight, because by His Humanity He pitied him, who by the power of His Divinity has driven away the darkness from our mind; for in that Jesus was born and suffered for our sakes, He as it were passed by, because this action is temporal; but when God is said to stand, it means, that, Himself without change, He sets in order all changeable things. But the Lord calls the blind man, who cries to Him, when He sends the word of faith to the people of the Gentiles by preachers; and they call on the blind man to be of good cheer and to rise, and bid him come to the Lord, when by preaching to the simple, they bid them have hope of salvation, and rise from the sloth of vice, and gird themselves for a life of virtue. Again, he throws away his garment and leaps, who, throwing aside the bands of the world, with unencumbered pace hastens to the Giver of eternal light.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Again, the Jewish people comes leaping, stripped of the old man, as a hart leaping on the mountains, that is, laying aside sloth, it meditates on Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles on high, and raises itself to heights of holiness. How consistent also is the order of salvation. First we heard by the Prophets, then we cry aloud by faith, next we are called by Apostles, we rise up by penitence, we are stripped of our old garment by baptism, and of our choice we are questioned. Again, the blind man when asked requires, that he may see the will of the Lord.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Therefore let us also imitate him, let us not seek for riches, earthly goods, or honours from the Lord, but for that Light, which we alone with the Angels can see, the way to which is faith; wherefore also Christ answers to the blind man, Thy faith hath saved thee. But he sees and follows who works what his understanding tells him is good; for he follows Jesus, who understands and executes what is good, who imitates Him, who had no wish to prosper in this world, and bore reproach and derision. And because we have fallen from inward joy, by delight in the things of the body, He shews us what bitter feelings the return thither will cost us.

THEOPHYLACT. Further, it says that he followed the Lord in the way, that is, in this life, because after it all are excluded who follow Him not here, by working His commandments.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Or, this is the way of which He said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. This is the narrow way, which leads to the heights of Jerusalem, and Bethany, to the mount of Olives, which is the mount of light and consolation.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

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