As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. 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.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52)
This weekend St. Mark recounts the healing story of Bartimaeus in order to both edify and instruct. In this powerful narrative, there are three moments that serve as an illustration for us in the dynamics of our relationship with God, in particular our life of prayer. First, despite the long odds of Jesus attending to his pleas and the rebuke of the crowd when he cries out, Bartimaeus is undaunted in pleading for mercy, “Jesus Son of David, have pity on me.” Second, the healing of Bartimaeus is not just about the cure of his blindness, but at a deeper level, it is a moment of communion, as Jesus gives him the gift of his grace. Jesus doesn’t merely say, “Go now and see;” he says, “Go, your faith has saved you.” The miracle of the story goes beyond physical cure to spiritual healing. Third, this healing prompts a response of grateful generosity as Bartimaeus does not simply go his way, but immediately follows Jesus on the way. In the midst of a desperate situation, Bartimaeus boldly implores the Lord and obtains not simply that for which he asks, but receives that for which he really needs. The culminating moment of Bartimaeus’ gratitude reveals the transformative power of Jesus’ healing grace as Bartimaeus is given a fresh start in life.
This week we are in the midst of our St. Jude Novena. Over the years, I have seen Christ’s power and healing at work through the intercession of St. Jude, who is the patron of desperate causes, particularly during these nine days of prayer. Our novena preacher, Fr. Boniface Willard, O.P., has framed his conferences around the Lord’s Prayer in order to bring us back to the basics of what prayer is all about. First, we are called to ask God boldly for our needs. In what would have been a shock to his disciples, Jesus tells them that they ought to call God, Our Father (which in Hebrew is Abba and might be translated using the familiar diminutive “daddy”). This familial language is meant to give us the courage of Bartimaeus to open our hearts fully to Our Father, no matter the desperate nature of the situation or what others may think. Second, when we ask the Lord through St. Jude to respond to our petitions, we recognize that what we will receive may not be exactly what we are expecting. We cannot know the mind of our Creator, and so, like Bartimaeus, we entrust our cares to our loving God knowing that when we ask for what we want, we ought to open our hearts to receive what we need. Finally, we give thanks to God for his grace in our lives as we anticipate the blessings and fruit of our novena journey. Bartimaeus’ swift reaction of gratitude and generosity inspires us in our own response to Christ.
Also as a community, we give thanks this weekend in a special way for the ordination of Fr. Marty Silva, S.J., whose vocation was cultivated as a member of St. Dominic’s Young Adults. This Sunday at 5:30 p.m., the newly ordained Fr. Marty will offer a Mass of Thanksgiving. We welcome Fr. Marty back to St. Dominic’s and rejoice with him as he begins his priestly ministry. May the Lord continue to work his healing through Fr. Marty that he might be a blessing to us and the entire Church!
~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.