33rd Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Rev 1:1-4; 2:1-5
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must happen soon. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who gives witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ by reporting what he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near. John, to the seven churches in Asia: grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne. I heard the Lord saying to me: “To the angel of the Church in Ephesus, write this: “‘The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands says this: “I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves Apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors. Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”’”
Gospel: Lk 18:35-43
As Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.
WHAT DO I STAND FOR? The visually impaired people, begging in the public squares, to earn their food, is a common scene and depend on the pity of the society. The gospel speaks of a person with visual disability in Jericho. When he tried to draw the attention of Jesus, the crowd shouted at him to silence him. He was not considered an entity in the society but forced to assume a low self-image. So, he asked Jesus only to have pity on him, nothing more than that. Asking for pity is usually understood as seeking alms. But Jesus did not presume so but clarified what he wanted. Jesus asked the visually impaired what he wanted and then healed him as per his request. Do we know on how the persons with disability are treated in our neighbourhood? We shall pray that we may become instrument of God for restoring their rights and dignity.
Prayer: Lord, help us avail ourselves for the needy.
COURAGE IN THE FACE OF PERSECUTION: The Jews under the reign of King Antiochus suffered martyrdom. They chose to obey the law and accepted death rather than commit sin. They expressed loyalty to the holy covenant with Yahweh being the first in their lives. When we encounter rejection, racism, lies in religious justifications, and unemployment, all these due to our faith in Christ, what do we do? Some have lost their lives, have faced slander and all sorts of evil because of the Gospel. All this is persecution, it is the cross of Christ. We are called to be courageous in the face of trials and be faithful to our Christian life. In the Gospel, Bartimaeus is a person to emulate. He persists in prayer despite the scolding of those around him. Do we really love God without any reservation, if so, how is pur prayer life?
EXPECTANT FAITH: The blind man enquired, “What is happening”? It is Jesus of Nazareth passing by was the answer. He made most of the situation. He knew what he wanted. He would not settle for anything less. When you have the lively stream in front of you, why drink hesitatingly. The blind man is a model of total trust. “This Jesus can do it for me”. He would not ask for food, a fresh set of clothes, a begging bowl, a staff. “Lord, let me see again” was the only request. God, who holds the universe in order, is in present in the Eucharist, in the tabernacle. Why don’t we ask him our needs! “So I tell you whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mk11: 23). Yes, often in our prayers that trust is in short supply.
JESUS, HAVE PITY ON ME! One of the ways, that Christians since the 4th century have practiced continuous prayer, especially in the Orthodox Churches, is by repeating this sentence: “Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It is a version of the prayer that has been used by the blind man of Jericho as we heard in the gospel of today. It is a powerful prayer. Its power consists in the repetition of the name of Jesus. The blind man kept repeating this prayer despite the attempt of the people to silence him. Jesus heard him, reached out to him, and healed him. For us, Jesus is not just the son of David, but he is the Son of God. And so, we borrow a phrase from the prayer of the publican in the temple: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Lk 18:13).