Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 28, 2018 Cycle B
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B., Chaplain
Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“Your faith has saved you” (Mk 10:52).

Today’s Word of God shows us how faith delivers us from captivity and illuminates our lives. In Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, he wrote: “The light of Faith: this is how the Church’s tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: ‘I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness’ (Jn 12:46). Saint Paul uses the same image: ‘God who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts’ (2 Cor 4:6).”

The first reading speaks about a new exodus. The prophet Jeremiah describes what God’s people experienced when they returned from captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem.

Israel had forgotten the covenant and turned to idols. Rebellion against God led to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the deportation of the Jewish people. Their exile was a long period of purification. After seventy years, God’s people rejoiced in their miraculous repatriation: “When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion, we were like men dreaming. Then our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with rejoicing” (Ps 126:1‒2). Their sorrow turned into joy: “Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves” (Ps 126:6). God brings us from sorrow to joy.

Today’s first reading recounts how faith delivered the Jewish people from exile. Likewise, faith releases us from the alienation of sin. We return to Jerusalem, the place where God dwells, with joy. We return to the experience of communion with God and others.

Christian life is a passage from darkness to light. God is light. Jesus says: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).In St. John’s first letter, he declares: “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5).

Bartimaeus’ blindness symbolizes our spiritual blindness, which prevents us from seeing people and things as they really are. “We all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” (Rm 3:23). We need to recognize that we are sinners. Sin prevents us from seeing God’s splendor. Moreover, the prevailing mentality is not conducive to seeing beyond appearances. It is hard for us to perceive reality as sign of God: a mountain is just a mountain, a sunset is merely a sunset, and a beautiful face is a beautiful face. Our spiritual blindness makes it difficult for us to see the Creator mirrored in his creatures.

Baptism illuminates our lives. However, in order for the potential of our baptismal grace to be fulfilled, we need personal encounter with Jesus Christ. We encounter him in the community’s flesh. We meet Jesus when we meet people gathered for their common encounter with Christ. People who are aware of their encounter with Christ radiate a light that opens the eyes of those in darkness. As the psalm says: “In your light we see light” (Ps 36:10).

Bartimaeus passed from darkness to light because he sought the light. Hearing that Jesus was passing by, he kept calling after him: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me” (Mk 10:47). Although many people unsuccessfully tried to silence Bartimaeus, Jesus heard his repeated supplications and stopped. As the psalm says: “Open my eyes that I may see the wonders of your law” (Ps 119:17). Our faithfulness in prayer will allow us to see God’s glory. Our perseverance will prepare us to receive the grace of contemplating God’s light.

“Your faith has saved you” (Mk 10:52). Let us pray for the increase of our faith. May the continual renewal of our personal encounter with Christ deliver us from spiritual captivity and illuminate our lives.  Amen.