23 October 2009

'What do you want me to do for you?' 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Christ healing the blind, El Greco, 1570s
30th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year B. 25 October 2009.


New American Bible (Philippines, USA)

Jerusalem Bible (Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, Scotland)

What do you want me to do for you?

My American Columban colleague, Fr John Burger, now on our General Council in Hong Kong, told a story on a video, which I can't locate now, about a blind man in his parish before in Japan. This man was a member of a prayer group that met once a week to listen to a particular passage from the Gospel, reflect on it, share and pray. This Sunday's gospel was the passage chosen one week and Father John was worried about his blind parishioner: what would he think or have to say?

He needn't have worried. Instead, he was moved by what the blind man said: 'I am quite happy with my life. I have my own place to live. I know where everything is. What strikes me about this passage is that Jesus doesn't presume to know what Bartimaeus wanted but asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" So many people, with good will, think they know what I want or need. Jesus didn't do that.
If Jesus were to ask me now what I needed I would tell him about areas of my life where I keep him out.'

Do we ever let Jesus really ask us what we want him to do for us? And do we presume to know what others need, as we try to be kind? I remember on a pilgrimage from Ireland to Lourdes in 1991 sharing a room with two men with different disabilities and a man who, like myself, was able-bodied. We had to help our two companions in some areas but I learned very quickly not to do for the other what he could do for himself. Years ago I saw a movie called 'Cactus Jack' which starred Kirk Douglas. It was a spoof Western, but done in the style of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons that featured such characters as Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner and so on. But in this movie the actors were all real. In one scene Kirk Douglas helps an old lady cross the street. She then hits him with her umbrella - because she didn't want to cross the street!
Often enough we can be like that, making choices for others we perceive to be weak, eg, young children, old people, persons with various disabilities. Our actions are well meant but may not be helpful at all.

Father Burger's blind friend saw in Jesus' question to Bartimaeus a sensitivity he didn't always experience with others, even while recognising their good intentions.
But perhaps the most encouraging thing of all is that Jesus is inviting us through this gospel to let him ask what he asked Bartimaeus: 'What do you want me to do for you?'

Healing of the Blind Man, Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-11

Master, I Want to See!

Biblical Reflection for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, OCT. 21, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Mark's healing stories of the blind man of Bethsaida (8:22-26) and the healing of Bartimaeus, the blind man on the road to Jericho (10:46-52) were undoubtedly popular stories in the early Church and they remain very significant stories for the contemporary Church.

These miracles have always fascinated me because I grew up with my father who was an eye doctor. How frequently we spoke about sight impairments, eye diseases, stigmatisms, cataracts and 20/20 vision! My father was also a member of a charitable society that assisted the blind, and I remember vividly volunteering as a child with my father and his doctor colleagues who hosted memorable Christmas parties for blind people.

Full text here.

A Prayer for Sight
Origen (185-253)

May the Lord Jesus touch our eyes,

As he did those of the blind.

Then we shall begin to see in visible things

Those which are invisible.

May He open our eyes to gaze not on present realities,

But on the blessings to come.

May he open the eyes of our heart to contemplate God in Spirit,

Through Jesus Christ the Lord,

To whom belong power and glory through all eternity. Amen.

[The readings for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time B are Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrew 5:1-6; and Mark 10:46-52]

* * *

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, chief executive officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network in Canada, is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He can be reached at: rosica@saltandlighttv.org .

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