THE BLIND BEGGAR WHO WAS NOT BLIND SPIRITUALLY
(A biblical refection on THE 30th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B] – 28 October 2018)
Gospel Reading: Mark 10:46-52
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalms: Psalm 126:1-6; Second Reading: Hebrews 5:1-6
The Scripture Text
And they came to Jericho; and as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; rise, He is calling you.” And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Master, let me receive my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52 RSV)
In today’s Gospel, a blind beggar calls Jesus the Son of David. Since Jesus’ father was Joseph, who is this other person the blind man is talking about?
David who, according to the Bible, was both a shepherd boy and a skilled harpist, was a very important figure in the history of the Jewish people. He was the same David who used a slingshot to kill Goliath, the Philistine giant, and he later became the greatest king of the Jews.
As king, David first made Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish nation; then ordered the Ark of the Covenant (the chest in which the Jews kept the Ten Commandments) be brought there. At that time, the Jews housed the Ark (a visible sign of God’s presence) in a special tent.
One of the first things David did after becoming king was build himself a palace of the finest materials but it wasn’t long before he began feeling a little guilty about living in luxury while the Ark of the Covenant was in a tent. Therefore, David decided he would build a house for the Lord, a magnificent temple unequalled by any other building in the world. However, in a dream God told the prophet Nathan that David should not carry out his plans. Instead, God would build a house (a dynasty) for David and would bless it with peace and prosperity. Furthermore, God said one of David’s descendants would occupy the throne forever.
At first, the Jews understood God’s promises to mean David’s son would rule after him and his son’s son would rule after that and so on. Historically, that did not prove to be true because on military power after another conquered the Jewish nation and executed the last of the Jewish kings.
Since God would not lie, the Jews reasoned they must have misunderstood what He meant and concluded that God’s promises referred to a future descendant of David. They believed this descendant or Son of David would be the Messiah who would conquer the world and rule forever with peace and justice.
So, when Bartimaeus calls Jesus “Son of David” instead of “Son of Joseph”, he acknowledges that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the descendant of David through whom God would fulfill His promises.
Being unable to see is only one type of blindness. We can also be spiritually blind when we fail to see how God is working in our lives.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 216-217.)
Prayer: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Forgive me for my spiritual blindness. By Your Holy Spirit, enable me to recognize the many ways God is working in my life and shows His love for me everyday. Amen.
Jakarta, 28 October 2018
A Christian Pilgrim