Cycle (B) 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Jer 31:7-9; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52

 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. Great numbers of merchants and Jewish priests made their homes in this pleasant city.  Jesus was on his way to the Passover. When a distinguished Rabi was on such a journey he was surrounded by his disciples.

The Mosaic Law required every Jewish male over the age of twelve and living within fifteen miles of Jerusalem to attend the Passover. It was practically impossible. Hence, those who could not fulfil this obligation would often line the roads to Jerusalem to greet the crowds of pilgrims as they passed toward the city. Beggars also capitalized on the increased traffic through

the city to beg for money. At the northern gate sat one such blind man known as Bartimaeus.

The story of Bartimaeus is the last healing miracle recorded in the Gospel of Mark.  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 city, he began to shout his remarkable prayer of faith: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd. Amid the noise and dust, people were jostling for attention, and beggars cried out for alms. In spite of this tumult, Jesus heard one voice crying out through the noise of the crowd. In spite of the crowd's objections, Jesus stopped and, recognizing Bartimaeus' faith, he called him.

This story has many lessons that we should practice in our lives. 

First of all, there is the persistence of Bartimaeus. He was utterly determined to meet Jesus. Nothing would stop him from it. In the mind of Bartimaeus it not a wistful sentimental wish, but a desperate desire, and it is that desperate desire that gets things done.

In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before.

Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion, he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.

Father and son began to work together. The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was also injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to talk or walk.

Everyone said, “Crazy men and their crazy dreams." "It's foolish to chase wild visions."

In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge. As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment.

It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife.

He touched his wife's arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do.

For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife's arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man's indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances.

 "Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press On" has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race." Calvin Coolidge.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will.
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill.

When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.

When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As every one of us sometimes learns.

And many a failure turns about.
When he might have won had he stuck it out:

Don't give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt

And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit –
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Author unknown

The second message is: Bartimaeus' response to the call of Jesus was immediate. In the Gospels we see that many were called by Jesus. Jesus called the young man who approached him, to leave all his belongings and follow him. But the young man went away sadly. Jesus message was addressed to many directly and indirectly to follow him. But the response except a few men was negative. This call of Jesus has continued throughout history. But the response of the majority is, "Wait until I have finished my work." But Bartimaeus did not waste time to think, he reacted promptly. Certain chances happen only once.  If we do not act on the moment the chance is gone, perhaps never to come back. Sean Connery missed out on $400 million by not taking the role of Gandolf in Lord of the Rings. (He was promised 15% of the Worldwide Box Office Receipts if he took the role - which would have earned him the biggest payday of any actor. But he turned it down, because he said he couldn't understand the script.)  "Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door."

Thirdly, Bartimaeus knew precisely what he wanted. This is a great problem of modern man. We do not know what exactly we want in our lives. Our goals are vague attractions.

From the book What they don't teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack:

In the book What They Don't Teach You in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack tells a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. In that year, the students were asked, "Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?" Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals at all.

In the bestseller "Goals!", Brian Tracy teaches you how to identify in the clearest term the things you want out of life, then how to make the plan to help you achieve those things. Brian Tracy says there are four reasons why people don't set goals:

  • They don't realize about the importance of goals. If the people with whom you spend the most time — family, friends, colleagues, and so forth — are not clear and committed to goals, there is a chance that you will not be, either.
  • They don't know how to set goals. Some set goals that are too general. These are, in reality, fantasies common to everyone. Goals, on the other hand, are clear, written, specific, and measurable.
  • They fear failure. Failure hurts, but it is often necessary to experience failure in order to achieve the greatest success. Do not unconsciously sabotage yourself by not setting any goals in which you might fail.
  • They fear rejection. People are often afraid that if they are unsuccessful at achieving a goal, others will be critical of them. This is remedied by keeping your goals to yourself at the outset; let others see your results and achievements once you've accomplished your goals.

Let us make a habit of daily goal setting and achieving, for the rest of our life. Let's focus on the things we want, rather than the things we don't want. Let's resolve to be a goal-seeking organism, moving unerringly toward the things that are important to us. Let us pray to have a clear vision of Christian values and priorities that we may become true disciples of Jesus like Bartimaeus.  Having received his sight, he followed Jesus. He began with a need, went on to express his gratitude, and finished with loyalty.

May God help to follow this perfect example of discipleship.