Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

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“Son of David, have pity on me.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Prayer to Discover and Follow my Vocation

My Lord and my God, you are Love itself, and the source of all love and goodness. Out of love you created me to know you, love you, and serve you in a unique way, as no one else can. I believe that you have a plan for my life, that you have a task in your Kingdom reserved just for me. Your plan and your task are far better than any other I might choose: they will glorify you, fulfill the desires of my heart, and save those souls who are depending on my generous response.

Lord, grant me the light I need to see the next step in that plan; grant me the generosity I need to set aside my own plans in favor of yours; and grant me the strength I need to put my hands to your plough and never turn back. You know me better than I know myself, so you know that I am sinful and weak. All the more reason that I need your grace to uphold the good desires of my heart, O Lord!

Show me your will for me, O gentle and eternal God, and help me to say with Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word,” and to say with Jesus, “Let not my will be done, but yours.” Amen.

http://catholic.net/index.php?option=dedestaca&id=3357&grupo=Lifestyle&canal=Vocation

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

increase our faith, hope and charity,

and make us love what you command,

so that we may merit what you promise.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Jer 31:7-9

Thus says the LORD:

Shout with joy for Jacob,

exult at the head of the nations;

proclaim your praise and say:

The LORD has delivered his people,

the remnant of Israel.

Behold, I will bring them back

from the land of the north;

I will gather them from the ends of the world,

with the blind and the lame in their midst,

the mothers and those with child;

they shall return as an immense throng.

They departed in tears,

but I will console them and guide them;

I will lead them to brooks of water,

on a level road, so that none shall stumble.

For I am a father to Israel,

Ephraim is my first-born.

APPLICATION

While granting that the prophet uses some hyperbole in his description of the return of the “remnant” of Israel, as he also does in describing the return of Judah in the following chapters, the fact that God did forgive and bring back such unworthy children is proof beyond compare of his infinite mercy and love. His Chosen People in both the northern and southern kingdom (Israel and Judah) had insulted and betrayed him for centuries, before he allowed the pagan nations they imitated to take them into captivity. They were the very people to whom he had been a kind father for centuries. He had brought them out of Egypt, set them up in Canaan–a country he gave them to be their own, had protected them again and again from aggressive enemies, yet these ungrateful ones forgot all this and abandoned the living God for idols of wood and stone. For generations he tolerated their apostasy; he sent his prophets to recall them to their senses, but in vain; finally, as a last resort, he allowed both kingdoms to be overrun by pagan powers who took his people as slaves into exile.

Although his Chosen People had abandoned him, he did not abandon them. He watched over them in exile and when he found that their exile had wrought a change of heart in some of his rebellious children, he brought them back to their homeland where once more they could be his elected ones. There in the Promised Land of Canaan they remained until the time was ripe for the sending of his divine Son on earth–in the human nature which he was to take from these same Chosen People, as he had promised to Abraham and his descendants.

This prophecy of Jeremiah, then, foretelling the return of a remnant of the Chosen People from exile is not merely a bit of Bible history which we should learn, it is a reminder to us Christians that God was thinking of us and preparing the way for our salvation centuries before Christ came on earth. According to God’s long-standing promise: the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, a son of David; he would be born in Bethlehem. But if some of the Chosen People had not been brought back from exile this could not have happened. Thus this return of the exiles, foretold by Jeremiah and later effected by God, was his preparation for the sending of Christ among us to be our Savior.

The first lesson we must learn from this bit of Bible history is, that God was planning for us and thinking of us from all eternity. We are not mere blobs of humanity groping our way in the dark on earth; we are individual human beings, very important in the eyes of God; individuals for whom he has planned a happiness, and he has been planning it from all eternity. The eighteen centuries of God’s dealings with his Chosen People, as described in the Old Testament, are but a short chapter of the history of God’s planning for our eternal happiness. However, it is a short chapter from which we can learn so much of his loving concern for us. If God has thought and planned for so long for our eternal happiness, surely we should be self-interested enough to make this, our eternal happiness, the governing thought of our short lives.

We, Christians, can surely “sing with gladness” today, as the prophet tells us, for the merciful and loving God has saved us. He has put us on the straight path to heaven, on a path made smooth and easy by the life, death and resurrection of his beloved Son whom he sent to lead us back to our merciful Father.

There is a second lesson for all of us in this prophecy of Jeremiah. It is: God’s mercy is without limit and he is ready to bestow it on us at the first sign we give him that we need it. Most of us have offended God and perhaps deserted him for long periods. Like the Chosen People, we did not appreciate all he had done and was doing for us. We were unfaithful to him and went after worldly idols perhaps, getting ourselves swamped in worldly ambitions and pleasures. But we are dealing with the same God of infinite mercy and forgiveness who brought back the unworthy Chosen People from the exile that their sins had brought on them. Can we have any doubt that he will bring us, too, back from that self-induced exile which our sins imposed on us? He is waiting for our word of petition, our humble request for forgiveness to take us back to his fatherly bosom. In fact, he is sending out his fatherly appeals to us to return to the path of virtue. He is sending them in many ways and guises, telling us that he is still our Father–that we are his first-born. Today’s reading is one of these loving calls. There may be other calls for us but there may not; let us not ignore this one–our eternal future depends on our response.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6


The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,

we were like men dreaming.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

and our tongue with rejoicing.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Then they said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us;

we are glad indeed.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the torrents in the southern desert.

Those that sow in tears

shall reap rejoicing.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Although they go forth weeping,

carrying the seed to be sown,

They shall come back rejoicing,

carrying their sheaves.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

READING II

Heb 5:1-6

Brothers and sisters:

Every high priest is taken from among men

and made their representative before God,

to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.

He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,

for he himself is beset by weakness

and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself

as well as for the people.

No one takes this honor upon himself

but only when called by God,

just as Aaron was.

In the same way,

it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,

but rather the one who said to him:

You are my son:

this day I have begotten you;

just as he says in another place:

You are a priest forever

according to the order of Melchizedek.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 784 On entering the People of God through faith and Baptism, one receives a share in this people’s unique, priestly vocation: “Christ the Lord, high priest taken from among men, has made this new people ‘a kingdom of priests to God, his Father.’ The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood.”1

CCC 1537 The word order in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordinatio means incorporation into an ordo. In the Church there are established bodies which Tradition, not without a basis in Sacred Scripture,2 has since ancient times called taxeis (Greek) or ordines. And so the liturgy speaks of the ordo episcoporum, the ordo presbyterorum, the ordo diaconorum. Other groups also receive this name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows,…

CCC 1539 The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”3 But within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service; God himself is its inheritance.4 A special rite consecrated the beginnings of the priesthood of the Old Covenant. The priests are “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”5

CCC 1540 Instituted to proclaim the Word of God and to restore communion with God by sacrifices and prayer,6 this priesthood nevertheless remains powerless to bring about salvation, needing to repeat its sacrifices ceaselessly and being unable to achieve a definitive sanctification, which only the sacrifice of Christ would accomplish.7

CCC 1564 “Whilst not having the supreme degree of the pontifical office, and notwithstanding the fact that they depend on the bishops in the exercise of their own proper power, the priests are for all that associated with them by reason of their sacerdotal dignity; and in virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, after the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest, they are consecrated in order to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful as well as to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament.”8

CCC 1578 No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God.9 Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God’s call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.

1 LG 10; Cf. Heb 5:1-5; Rev 1:6.

2 Cf. Heb 5:6; 7:11; Ps 110:4.

3 Ex 19:6; cf. Isa 61:6.

4 Cf. Num 1:48-53; Josh 13:33.

5 Heb 5:1; cf. Ex 29:1-30; Lev 8.

6 Cf. Mal 2:7-9.

7 Cf. Heb 5:3; 7:27; 101-4.

8 LG 28 cf. Heb 5:1-10; 7:24; 9:11-28; Innocent I, Epist. ad Decentium:PL 20,554A; St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 2,22:PG 35,432B.

9 Cf. Heb 5:4.

APPLICATION

Through the incarnation of his divine Son, God has given us a High Priest who offered, once and for all, his own body on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He entered the real holy of holies on our great day of atonement and will remain there as our intermediary with the Father until the last man has been saved. It is of this basic truth of our Christian faith that the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us today. As the author was writing to Judaeo-Christians, who knew the Jewish cultic regulations of the temple in Jerusalem, he uses terms connected with the temple cult to bring home to his readers the full meaning that the death and glorification of Christ have for them.

It was God himself who appointed Aaron, Moses’ mouthpiece, to be the first high priest to have charge of the services of the Tent of the Meeting, when the Israelites fled from Egypt. His eldest son was to succeed him as high priest, and his other sons were also priests. This was to continue down through the ages. The high priest was the intermediary between the Chosen People and God. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, he offered the sacrifice which made atonement for all the sins of the people. The high priest, therefore, had a very special place–the most important religious position–in the Jewish community. The Jewish converts to Christianity would understand very well what the author of this epistle meant when he called Christ our High Priest, appointed by God to make atonement for all the sins of the world. They already knew how this atonement was made. They knew who this high priest was–the Son of God who took human nature in which he could make this sacrifice which was of infinite value, and surpassed all the sacrifices offered by all the high priests of Jewish history. They knew that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was for all men–not for the Jews alone, but for each and every member of the human race for all time.

We, Christians of the 20th century, know all of this as did the Christians of the seventies of the 1st century. We know God has planned from all eternity to give us a place in heaven when we die. We know the humiliations and sufferings his divine Son endured so that we could be made worthy of this honor, and therefore we should know how important it is that we do the little expected of us in order to fulfill God’s plan for us. Yet, there are many Christians today who are so entangled in the passing things of this world that they have no time or inclination to look to their eternal future. They live and act in this world as if it were to be their eternal world, and have no thought or time to prepare themselves for the future home which God has planned for them.

There will be a rude awakening when they are called to judgment. When they realize what they have lost, and when they look back on the follies and foibles on which they spent their days on earth, how they will despise themselves! Today, out of true Christian charity, let us pray that such deluded Christians will be very few in number.

GOSPEL

Mk 10:46-52

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.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him.1 To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask.2 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.3 But his miracles can also be occasions for “offence”;4 they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.5

CCC 2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief)6 or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman).7 The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”8 Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”9

CCC 2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.” It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light.10 By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior’s mercy.

1 cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 38.

2 Cf. Mk 5:25-34; 10:52; etc.

3 Cf. Jn 10:31-38.

4 Mt 11:6.

5 Cf. Jn 11:47-48; Mk 3:22.

6 Cf. Mk 1:40-41; 5:36; 7:29; Cf. Lk 23:39-43.

7 Cf. Mk 25; 5:28; Lk 7:37-38.

8 Mt 9:27, Mk 10:48.

9 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 85, 1: PL 37, 1081; cf. GILH 7.

10 Cf. Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:13.

APPLICATION

This blind man of Jericho was one of the very lucky men in the gospel story. He got the last chance of appealing in person to Jesus for the gift of his eyesight. He used that chance in spite of opposition, his faith and trust in Jesus were so strong that nobody could stop him from expressing them. He made his request while proclaiming his faith. He got, not only what he asked–the physical gift, but a spiritual insight was added as well and he became a faithful follower of Christ.

Our Lord had passed through Jericho a few times during his public ministry. Jericho was on the route from Galilee to Jerusalem. Bartimaeus was very probably sitting on the roadside begging for alms on these occasions also, but influenced by the lack of interest of his fellow-citizens he, too, had no time for all this talk about a Messiah and a miracle-worker. In any case, it was only on the occasion of Christ’s last journey through Jericho that his faith moved him to appeal aloud for help from the one and only person whom he was convinced could grant him his request. His appeal was heard.

There is a deep spiritual lesson for all of us in today’s gospel story. Like Bartimaeus, many of us have been sitting by the roadside for years, not moving a foot toward our eternal destination. We have been blind to our true interests; our sole preoccupation seems to be to collect the paltry alms that this world would deign to drop in our laps. But we are even more to be pitied than Bartimaeus–he knew that he was blind; we are not aware of our spiritual blindness–we think everything in the garden is rosy and colorful when we see only the colors we want to see and are blind to the things that really matter.

We said above that it is probable that Bartimaeus ignored the passing-by of Jesus on earlier occasions; it is certain that in, our case we have ignored the presence of Jesus in the many reminders he has sent us up to now. That parish retreat we did not attend; that sudden death of a close friend; that illness of a near relative; that car accident from which we miraculously escaped; these and many other incidents are examples of the many times our loving Lord passed close to us–ready to cure our spiritual blindness; but we did not see him.

It is possible that our Lord saw Bartimaeus sitting by the roadside on his earlier journeys through Jericho. Perhaps he could not help him, for the blind man was engaged in collecting alms with no thought for the greater gift–the return of his eyesight. It is certain that our Lord has often been near to us, anxious to give us back our spiritual vision. But like Bartimaeus, we were so busy gathering up this world’s paltry donations that we did not even think of the far greater grace we needed.

In the twenty centuries of our Christian history there have been some who have deliberately shut the eyes of their minds to the many calls to repentance which Jesus sent. This is a danger and a fatal mistake we can all avoid if we learn today’s gospel message. This story of the blind man of Jericho was not inspired and preserved for some literary reason, but as an instruction for us. It is read to us today, to make us examine our consciences and see the true state of our spiritual standing in the eyes of God. Are we steadily moving on toward heaven, carrying out daily duties to God and to our neighbor, bearing life’s crosses cheerfully–knowing that they come to us from a loving Father as part of our training for heaven? Or are we sitting idly by the roadside, engrossed and enmeshed in the affairs of this world, oblivious of our real purpose in life and turning deaf ears and blind eyes to all the danger signals that Christ our Savior regularly is sending out to us?

For some among us today this may be Christ’s last call. Will we be so utterly disinterested in our own eternal welfare as to ignore it? For all of us it is a call to put our house in order. We may not have been sitting by the roadside, but have we been keeping faithfully to the road to heaven–marked out for us by our Christian faith? Let us all call on Jesus, son of David and Son of God today, to give us the grace to see ourselves as we are–and then to see ourselves as, we ought to be. “Master, let me receive my sight.”

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

We are Meant to Rely on Receiving

Man is redeemed by the cross; the crucified Christ, as the completely opened being, as the true redemption of man – this is the central principle of Christian faith… in the last analysis of man, it expresses the primacy of acceptance over action, over ones own achievement… Accordingly, from the point of view of the Christian faith, man comes in the profoundest sense to himself not through what he does but through what he accepts. He must wait for the gift of love, and love can only be received as a gift. It cannot be “made” on one’s own, without anyone else; one must wait for it, let it be given to one. And one cannot become wholly man in any other way than by being loved, by letting oneself be loved. That love represents simultaneously both man’s highest possibility and his deepest need, and that this most necessary thing is at the same time the freest and the most unenforceable means precisely that for his “salvation” man is meant to rely on receiving. If he declines to let himself be presented with the gift, then he destroys himself. Activity that makes itself into an absolute, that aims at achieving humanity by its own efforts alone, is in contradiction with man’s being… The primacy of acceptance is not intended to condemn man to passivity; it does not mean that man can now sit idle. On the contrary, it alone makes it possible to do the things of this world in a spirit of responsibility, yet at the same time in an uncramped, cheerful, free way, and to put at them at the service of redemptive love.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

For Healing

Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You.

Allow your healing hand to heal me.

Touch my soul with Your compassion for others.

Touch my heart with Your courage and infinite love for all.

Touch my mind with Your wisdom, that my mouth may always proclaim Your praise. Teach me to reach out to You in my need, and help me to lead others to You by my example.

Most loving Heart of Jesus, bring me health in body and spirit that I may serve You with all my strength.

Touch gently this life which You have created, now and forever. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=75

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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