FR TONY'S HOMILYBIBLE STUDYRCIA LESSONSFAITH FORMATION LESSONS

30th Sunday of Year B

CNN (3:07) – AP journalist Terry Anderson was held hostage for seven years by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Since his 1991 release, Terry Anderson has founded charities, taught journalism and reconnected with loved ones.
8-MINUTE HOMILY

Removing The “Blindfold” of Indifference to the Needs of Others

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The central theme of today’s readings is the overflowing mercy and kindness of a loving, healing and forgiving God for His children.

Homily Starter Anecdote

The conventional wisdom is that every homily should begin with a story to capture the congregation’s attention and to introduce the theme. 
OPTION A: Two Prayers for Spiritual Vision

Two Famous Prayers for Spiritual Vision

Cardinal Newman prays for clear vision in his famous poem, Lead Kindly Light”:

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom; lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

“Amazing Grace,” As the captain of a British slave ship, John Newton regained his faith during a storm at sea and became an ordained minister who was very active in the abolitionist movement. He explains how he gained his spiritual eyesight in his famous hymn, Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.

Today’s Gospel, which tells of the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus, challenges us to strengthen our faith in Jesus, the healer, and invites us to gain true spiritual vision.

OPTION B: An Ancient Eye Test

An Ancient Eye Test for Spiritual Blindness

Fr. De Mello tells a story which can help us to check our spiritual blindness. A hermit asked his disciples: “When do you say that the night is ended, and it is morning?” The first disciple said: “I say that it is morning when I can distinguish an oak tree from a maple tree.” The hermit said: “No.” The second disciple answered: “I know it is morning when I can distinguish a cow from a sheep at a distance.” Once again, the hermit disagreed. The third disciple replied, “It is morning when no star is visible in the cloudless sky.” “That is also a wrong answer,” said the hermit. Then he explained:” I know it is morning when I can recognize a person as a son or daughter of God, and, hence, my own brother or sister.”

OPTION C: Blindfolded in the Den of Lions

Blindfolded in the Den of Lions

In the seven years that he was held hostage in Lebanon, Terry A. Anderson, Chief Middle East Correspondent of the Associated Press, was physically and psychologically abused, beaten, and tortured by his captors. Chained to a bed or to the wall and stripped to his underwear, Anderson was kept blindfolded so as not to be able to recognize his whereabouts or subsequently reveal the identities of his guards.

Deprived of physical sight and freedom, Anderson spent those seven years engaged in a spiritual odyssey marked by an ever-deepening insight. Blindfolded in darkness, he discovered the inner light of grace that enabled him to look once again in Faith at God, to see himself in stark truthfulness and humility, and even to look upon his captors with a sense of understanding. His probing spiritual perception led Anderson to seek reconciliation with and healing forgiveness from God. Through the ministry of Father Lawrence Jenco, a fellow hostage, Anderson rediscovered his Faith. The following is Anderson’s response to that occasion:

Where is faith found? Not in a book or in a church, not often or for everyone. In childish times, it’s easier; a child believes just what it’s told. But children grow and soon begin to see too much that doesn’t match the simple tales, and not enough of what’s behind their parents’ words. There is no God, the cynics say; we made Him up out of our need and fear of death. And happily, they offer up their test-tube proofs. A mystery, the priests all say, and point to saints that prove their faith in acts of love and sacrifice. But what of us who are not saints, only common human sinners? And what of those who in their need and pain cry out to God and go on suffering? I do not know — I wish I did. Sometimes I feel all the world’s pain. I only say that once in my own need I felt a light and warm and loving touch that eased my soul and banished doubt and let me go on to the end. It is not proof — there can be none. Faith’s what you find when you’re alone and find you’re not (Den of Lions, Memoirs of Seven Years, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York: 1993).

In today’s Gospel, another man, deprived of physical sight invites the gathered assembly in this church to share in his spiritual odyssey. We are often held hostage by our pride, fear, or self-seeking or by the “blindfold” of indifference to the needs of others. With Bartimaeus, let us pray for both freedom from spiritual blindness and growth in faith, saying, “Lord, I want to see.” (Sanchez Archives)

Click on chevron banners for additional insights into this week’s scripture in order to relate it to the lives of your parishioners.

First Reading Remarks

The first reading tells us how a forgiving and compassionate God has been healing the spiritual blindness of His Chosen People by subjecting them to captivity in Babylon; now He will liberate them, bringing them back to their homeland. Connected to this reading is the Jerusalem journey of Jesus in the company of the lame and the blind in today’s Gospel, in which healing of the blind Bartimaeus is seen as the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s joyful prophecy of the exiled Jews return from Babylon to their homeland.

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Additional insights on the First Reading from Fr. Tony

This reading, taken from the book of Jeremiah, tells us of the small number of people, “the remnant of Israel,” who had survived the 721 BC Assyrian captivity (with which the Babylonian captivity would later merge). Jeremiah encourages his exiled fellow Jews with the promise of a homecoming reminiscent of the joy and triumph of the first coming home of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery to the promised land. Jeremiah describes the coming return of the Babylonian captives as they will be led on their joyful journey home to Jerusalem. The passage foretells God’s promise to give His people life in all its fullness. Through their exile and suffering, the people had learned to humble themselves and turn to God with sincere repentance. The returnees would include not only the healthy, but the blind, the lame, and the vulnerable. Originally spiritually blind, the exiled Jews, through suffering, would receive spiritual sight, and they would express their gratitude to God by singing His glories on their way back to their city. The promise of this prophesied journey would be fulfilled in Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem in the company of the lame and the blind, recorded in today’s Gospel. “By extending a word of healing and salvation (“your faith has healed, i.e. saved you”, Mk 10:52), to the poor, sick, and needy, Jesus realized Jeremiah’s vision. Moreover, what the prophet had promised regarding the return of the exiles to Judah, would be eclipsed by the ultimate return of all peoples to God, a homecoming Jesus would accomplish through the saving, healing power of his cross.” (Sanchez archives). The Gospel highlights the actions of Bartimaeus which called healing from the heart of Jesus and prompted the now-seeing beggar to follow Jesus as a witnessing disciple. The first reading, on the other hand, directs our attention to God’s merciful actions: “delivering His people . . . bringing them back . . . gathering them . . . consoling them… guiding them . . . leading them.”


Second Reading Summary

Today’s second reading, taken from Hebrews 5, presents Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for sins and as the true High Priest of the New Testament. It also gives us the assurance that our High Priest, the sinless Jesus, is sympathetic to us because Jesus has shared our human nature in everything, including temptation.

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Additional insights on the Second Reading from Fr. Tony

The reading describes Jesus as the High Priest of the new Covenant. It likens him to the class of ancient priests, (sympathetic and patient, not glorifying himself), then distinguishes Jesus from the others (because the Father called Jesus his Son). The people addressed in this letter had been put out of the synagogues when they accepted Jesus. Some were even abandoning Christ to return to Judaism. Hence, the writer of Hebrews tries to comfort them by depicting Jesus as a superior replacement for the priests upon whom they had formerly depended because Jesus was appointed by God to that ministry to serve the people as intermediary between God and man, and as man-God Jesus had empathy for and profound patience with “erring sinners.” The Jewish High Priest was a sinner like others, and his role was to offer sacrifices to God for himself and for the people as their representative. But Jesus, sinless, offered Himself as a sacrifice for all sin, and will continue to act as our mediator at “the throne of grace,” until the end of time. Further, Jesus, the Son of God, was appointed directly by God to an even better priesthood (“the order of Melchizedek,” Ps 110:4). In role, person, and appointment, Jesus surpassed every High Priest in ancient Israel. Hence, through Jesus, the true High Priest, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence and boldness, and we can expect mercy and favor from God. We are also assured that that our High Priest, Jesus, sympathetic to us because He has shared our human nature, is able to be compassionate. Having suffered death to save us, Jesus is a wounded healer. Here, again, we see the gracious nature of our relationship to our God. “I believe that I shall see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps 27:13)}


Gospel Summary

Today’s Gospel explains how Jesus shows the mercy and compassion of His Heavenly Father by healing the blind Bartimaeus. Just as the blind and the lame were God’s concern in the first reading, Jesus is concerned with the blind beggar, Bartimaeus of Jericho. On hearing that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, Bartimaeus loudly expressed his trusting Faith in the healing power of Jesus by shouting his request, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”When Jesus invited him to come near, Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak (suggesting, perhaps, the baptismal divesting). His meeting with Jesus gave Bartimaeus the gift of spiritual as well as physical sight, and the fomer blind beggar became a disciple of Jesus.

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Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem through Jericho, an ancient city fifteen miles away from Jerusalem. Jericho was the first city conquered by the Israelites when they entered Palestine. It was a city of great wealth and remarkable beauty, supporting many date palm plantations and fig trees. Great numbers of merchants and Jewish priests made their homes in this pleasant city. The Mosaic Law required every Jewish male over the age of twelve and living within fifteen miles of Jerusalem to attend the Passover. Those who, for one reason or another, were exempt from this obligation would often line the roads to Jerusalem to greet the crowds of pilgrims as they passed toward the city. The Jewish rabbis on pilgrimage often taught religious lessons to the pilgrims on their journey. Beggars also capitalized on the increased traffic through the city to beg for money. One such beggar was the blind man known as Bartimaeus.


James & John versus Bartimaeus: It is not by coincidence that this Gospel of blind Bartimaeus follows immediately upon last Sunday’s text about James and John’s ambitious request for positions of primacy in Jesus’ coming Kingdom. It is probable that Mark intends to the two stories to be seen in contrast: James and John, although possessing physical sight, evidently do not “see” Jesus for who He is, do not understand Him and His message properly yet, and are still too filled with pride and a desire for power. Bartimaeus, on the other hand, although physically blind, evidently “sees” Jesus much better than some of His own disciples; he recognizes Jesus as the promised Davidic Messiah, but, instead of asking for power and glory, seeks only the healing and mercy that many Jews believed the Messiah to be bringing. (Rev. Dr. Watson, Jerusalem). Were there two blind men, or one? Did this healing occur once or twice? St. Augustine is convinced that Mark and Luke are recounting two similar but not identical stories, involving two different men (de Con. Evan., ii, 65). Luke says that the healing happened as Jesus was arriving in Jericho, whereas Mark says that it occurred as Jesus was leaving Jericho. The fact that in Jesus’ time there were actually two Jerichos may be reflected in the differences in the accounts of healing two blind men (Mt 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:35-43). Jesus healed the blind men after He left the old Jericho and as He was approaching Herodian Jericho.


Jesus spots a particular blind man in the crowd: The story of Bartimaeus is the last healing miracle recorded in the Gospel of Mark. (The name Bartimaeus in Aramaic meant ‘son of Timaeus,’ just as Peter was known as Simon bar-Yona, ‘son of Jonah’) The story is presented dramatically. While the majority of those who received healing in the New Testament are not mentioned by name, in this case, the beggar’s name is given as Bartimaeus. When the people told Bartimaeus the news of Jesus’ passage through the cityhe screamed out for Jesus’ attention as one abandoned by both God and man, who could scarcely dare to dream of something better. He began to shout his remarkable prayer of Faith: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Perhaps there was a popular sense that any member of David’s family had inherited at least some of their illustrious ancestor’s powers? We should also recall that, especially under Roman occupation, the title “Son of David,” with both its royal and messianic associations, would have had strongly political overtones, and was potentially subversive. Dr. Watson). Jesus heard one voice crying out through the noise of the crowd. Who would have expected a Messianic greeting from a blind beggar? In spite of the crowd’s objections, Jesus stopped and, recognizing Bartimaeus’ Faith, called the blind man over. In the Law of Moses, the blind are among those who are to be accorded protection in the name of God. Leviticus admonishes the Israelites not to “curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind.” In Deuteronomy, those who lead the blind astray along the road are placed under the same curse as those who withhold justice from the alien, the orphan or the widowed. Psalm 146 proclaims that God gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down and loves the righteous.


Bartimaeus’ response of trusting Faith: The people conveyed Jesus’ invitation to Bartimaeuswhoresponded by jumping up, and running to Jesus. By addressing Jesus as Son of David, the beggar publicly identified Jesus as the Messiah. At Jesus’ summons, Bartimaeus threw aside his long cloak, his only possession, which protected him from heat and cold. In throwing away his cloak, he gave up everything he had depended on, putting his complete trust in God.Discarding his cloak represented a radical break with his previous life (symbolized by his cloak), in the same way that Peter, James and John left their fishing boats and nets behind them when “called” by Jesus? The energy and the passion with which Bartimaeus responded to Jesus’ summons should characterize all those who seek to respond to Jesus’ call. Jesus then asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replied promptly: “Master, I want to see.” Jesus rewarded his Faith by restoring both his physical and his spiritual sight. Having received physical and spiritual sight, Bartimaeus followed Jesus joyfully along the road. The gift of sight led Bartimaeus to Faith, and Faith came to full expression in committed discipleship. He wanted to stay close to his Savior, to thank, praise, and serve Him. Thus, today’s Gospel presents Bartimaeus as the model for us, in his prayer and in his wholehearted commitment to a discipleship that included, and still includes, rejection by those who refuse to believe. Bartimaeus is presented to contemporary believers as a guide in the Christian way because he was a man of Faith and vision, a man unafraid to recognize his need for healing and to cry out, “I want to see!” The man from Jericho invites us also to follow him up the road. Let us remember the old Persian proverb, “A blind man who sees is better than a seeing man who is blind.”


Lessons of Christian discipleship: The section of Mark’s Gospel that deals with discipleship (8:22-10:52), begins with the healing of a blind man (8:22-26), and concludes with the story of another blind man, Bartimaeus. In between these two stories are three episodes in which the disciples are presented as blind to the meaning of Jesus’ mission and of their own discipleship. Their spiritual “blindness” is evident in their persistent misunderstanding. The gradual coming to sight of the first blind man (8:22-26), stands in contrast to the story of Bartimaeus, who regains his vision at once and becomes a follower of Jesus. The healing of the blind Bartimaeus contains four main elements of Christian discipleship: a) the correct recognition of Jesus as Lord and Savior (“Jesus, Son of David”); b) the acknowledgement of the need for Jesus’ help (“Have pity on me”; “I want to see”); c) ready response to Jesus’ call (“He . . . came to Jesus“); and d) becoming Jesus’ disciple (” … followed him on the way“). “The Church has always taught that the life-changing grace of Christ is made available through the sacraments irrespective of the holiness of the minister or the congregation. In the Eucharist, the sacrament of sacraments, it is not just God’s grace but Christ’s bodily presence which is made available. That means that every Sunday we have the same opportunity as Bartimaeus. Then, why do so many of us go to Mass again and again and walk out the door much the same as we went in? Why so little healing, so little growth in holiness? Maybe because we lack the outrageously bold faith of Bartimaeus. The gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, healing, purification, guidance, all are there for the taking. Hence, in the spirit of Bartimaeus, let’s determine to stop going home empty-handed.” (Dr. Watson).


The Messianic implications: The healing of Bartimaeus has Messianic implications. Jesus commended Bartimaeus because he had correctly understood that Jesus was the Son of David and the expected Messiah. Referring to the coming of the Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped” (Is 35:5; 29:18, 42:7). The Church has taken the persistent prayer of Bartimaeus to heart. The prayer “Kyrie eleison” (“Lord, have mercy“), appears frequently in the liturgy. Bartimaeus’ prayer has also become the source of “the Jesus Prayer:” “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” In its adapted form, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” it has become a popular Christian prayer. The Church advises us to repeat it frequently, in acknowledgement of our sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy. Like Bartimaeus, we should recognize — even in our blind moments — the presence of Jesus. We can trust in the power of Jesus to give us new visions and to strengthen us in our weakness.

Life messages

Instead of remaining in spiritual blindness, let us pray for spiritual sight

Each one of us suffers from spiritual blindness. Hence, we need the light of the Holy Spirit to end our darkness and grant us proper spiritual vision. Let us learn to recognize the causes of our spiritual blindness. Anger, hatred, jealousy, evil habits, addictions etc. make us spiritually blind, and they prevent us from seeing the goodness and presence of God in our family members and neighbors. Hence, let us learn to think about and see the goodness in others without becoming unkind, critical, or judgmental. We are blinded by greed when we are never satisfied with what we have and incur debts to buy luxury items. Hence, let us pray to have a clear vision of Christian values and priorities in our lives and to acknowledge the presence of God dwelling in ourselves and in our neighbors. A clear spiritual vision enables us to see the goodness in others, to express our appreciation for all that they have been doing for us, and to refrain from criticizing their performance.


We need to “cry out” to Jesus, as Bartimaeus did

Like Bartimaeus, we must seek the love, mercy, and goodness of Jesus with trusting Faith. Sometimes our fears, anger, and habitual sins prevent us from approaching God in prayer. At times, we even become angry with God when He seems slow in answering our prayers. In these desperate moments, let us approach Jesus in prayer with trusting Faith, as Bartimaeus did, and listen carefully to the voice of Jesus asking us: “What do you want me to do for you?” Let us tell Him all our heart’s intentions and needs.

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We need to have the courage of our convictions

We need people who, like Bartimaeus, will refuse to be silenced by the secular leaders of our society. We must make our politicians realize that our country is rejecting Christian principles and facing a loss of values. A good example of this is the heated controversy over the First Amendment to the Constitution in the U.S. The First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is a simple statement of the right of an individual to follow his own conscience in worship. Unfortunately, it is often interpreted by activist judges to mean that the expression of all religious ideas is forbidden by the government. This is a far cry from the intention of the founding fathers. James Madison (the primary author of the Constitution) said, “Religion [is] the basis and Foundation of Government…. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves… according to the Ten Commandments of God.” Even Thomas Jefferson, who coined the phrase “separation of Church and State”, wrote: “God gave us life and liberty. Thus, the liberties of a nation cannot be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God, and that they are not to be violated but with His wrath. Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

End of homily

Jokes of the Week

At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, OR CONGREGATIONS. 

CHOOSE ONE

#1: Two Polish men were taking their first train trip to Warsaw on the train. A vendor came down the corridor selling bananas which they’d never seen before. Each bought a banana. The first man eagerly peeled the banana and bit into it just as the train went into a dark tunnel. When the train emerged from the tunnel, he looked across to his friend and said, “I wouldn’t eat that if I were you.”
“Why not?” asked his friend. “Because it makes you temporarily blind.”

#2: A motorist with poor eyesight was driving through a dense fog and was trying desperately to stay within range of the taillights of the car ahead of him. As he squinted and worried his way along, trying to stay on course with those taillights, the car in front suddenly stopped, and his car hit the car in the front. The driver of the rear car got out and demanded to know why the other driver came to such an abrupt stop. “I had to,” he replied, “I’m in my own garage!”

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week. Since Fr. Tony is retiring from parish duties, he has started a personal website: https://frtonyshomilies.com/ where he has started putting his Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA lessons, Faith Formation articles and other useful items for pastors and pastoral assistants. Fr. Tony warmly invites priests and deacons and the public to visit his website and use it for their preaching and teaching ministries. He welcomes your corrections, modifications and suggestions to improve the homilies and articles given in this website.

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NAB Introductions

Clicking on these links to download Fr. Tony’s Microsoft Word documents on the introductory material from the NAB Bible provided by the USCCB. 

Genesis

Exodus

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

Joshua

Judges 7

Ruth

Samuel I, II

Kings I & II

Chronicles I & II

Ezra

Nehemiah

Tobit

Judith

Esther

MACCABEES I & II

Job & Introduction to Wisdom Books

Psalms

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Song of Songs

Wisdom

Sirach

Isaiah

Jeremiah

Lamentations

Baruch

Ezekiel

Daniel

MINOR PROPHETS

Hosea

Joel

Amos

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi

Preface to the New American Bible

ntroduction to the gospels

Matthew (L)

Mark (L)

Luke (L)

John (L)

Acts of the Apostles (L)

Introduction to Paul’s epistles to the Romans (L)

Romans (L)

Corithians I (L)

Corinthians II (L)

Galatians (L)

Ephesians (L)

Philippiens (L)

Colossians (L)

Thessalonians I, II (L)

Timothy I, II (L)

Titus (L)

Philemon (L)

Hebrews

James

Peter I, II

 John I, II, III

Jude

The Book of Revelation

About Fr. Tony

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week. Since Fr. Tony is retiring from parish duties, he has started a personal website: https://frtonyshomilies.com/ where he has started putting his Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA lessons, Faith Formation articles and other useful items for pastors and pastoral assistants. Fr. Tony warmly invites priests and deacons and the public to visit his website and use it for their preaching and teaching ministries. He welcomes your corrections, modifications and suggestions to improve the homilies and articles given in this website.

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