October 27, 2012

30th Sunday - B


What Keeps Me from Jesus?

People try to keep the blind Bartimaeus from Jesus.  They might have thought that it was inappropriate for such a nobody to disturb a master and a prophet [1].  After all, he is just a blind beggar.  Or as Fr. Frank Moloney puts it in his commentary, “He has nothing, not even his sight.” [2]  

Bartimaeus does not allow what people think of him to stop him from approaching Jesus.  He just “kept calling out all the more.”   

Nor does he allow who he is – seen here in his physical limitation and his lack of social status –  to keep him from Jesus.  In fact, when called, by throwing aside his cloak, “he leaves his only vestige of dignity….  It is with nothing that Bartimaeus presents himself to Jesus.”   [3]

Bartimaeus knows that he is nobody.  Recognizing his status and his needs, only then can he beg Jesus, “Have pity on me.”  

That awareness, instead of being an obstacle, teaches him who he is.  More importantly, it teaches him who Jesus is, the one who would “have pity” on him.

In the end, more than physical sight, Bartimaeus receives the call to be Jesus’ disciple.  “He received his sight and followed Jesus on the way.”  

[1] Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B. Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1993p. 194.
 [2] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary.  Peabody, MA: Hendrikson Publishers, 2002; p. 208.
[3] Ibid, p. 210.

30th Sunday - B (October 28, 2012)


October 20, 2012

29th Sunday - B

Mark 10: 35-45

The Master’s Trust

In Mark’s Gospel, James and John show their ambition after Jesus has told them three times of what awaits him in Jerusalem (8: 31-33, 9: 30-32, and 10: 32- 34).

Commenting on the first time Jesus did that, Mark wrote, “He spoke this openly” (8:32).  That was when Peter tried to talk Jesus out of it.  And Jesus rebuked Peter, “Get behind me Satan.”  He then told the disciples together with the crowd, ““Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (8:34).

After the second time Jesus told them of his suffering and death, the disciples argued among themselves who was the greatest.  Jesus then taught them, ““Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (9:35).

Now, Jesus’ third prediction of his passion and death has just taken place right before James and John make their request.  And this time, as if realizing that the disciples did not get it yet after the first two times, Jesus is most explicit. [1]  Mark recalled “taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.’”

And yet, James and John come up to him and make an outrageous request.  It is outrageous both in the way they ask, and in the content.  “We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 

James and John are among the first of the disciples Jesus called (1: 19-20).  They are two of the three disciples (the third one being Peter) who Jesus has uniquely given new names, and taken to special events (the transfiguration, certain miracles, etc).  Yet, they still do not understand. 

With John, it is even worse.  After Jesus telling them of his imminent suffering and death the second time, John stopped a man from “driving out demons in [Jesus’] name” with the reason, “because he does not follow us.” (9: 38)

And here he is, with his brother, showing their lack of understanding once more.

The other ten, Peter included, do not fare much better.  “They became indignant at James and John.”

No matter how hard-headed the disciples are, Jesus does not give up on them.  First to James and John, then to the whole group, Jesus once more teaches them the meaning of true service.  [2]  

He does so by words and then by his own example, “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary.  Peabody, MA: Hendrikson Publishers, 2002; p. 204.
[2] Ibid,  p. 205.

October 19, 2012

October 13, 2012

28th Sunday - B


Right Intention, Wrong Direction

The man described in this Sunday’s Gospel passage probably had every earthly possession a person in those days could have.   And with the wealth came social status, respect, power ….  It was very likely that he had it all.

Often time we have thought of his failure in following Jesus.

However, in all fairness, he should at least get the credit for knowing that he does not have everything yet.   

By the common understanding of his time, he must have been on good terms with God.  Wealth was considered a concrete sign of God’s reward to those who were walking in God’s way.

Whatever people might have thought of him, he knew that he was still missing “eternal life.”  So he came “running” to Jesus and asked the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

He asked the wrong question, thinking of eternal life as something he could achieve or gain by doing things. [1] As Jesus pointed out, eternal life or entrance to the Kingdom of God is first and foremost God’s free and gracious gift.

But at least the man knew that he did not have everything yet.

How about me?  Do I even know that I need God?  Or the more possessions, talents, popularity, power, and opportunities I have, the less I think of God?  If so, I am even further off than this man. 

[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary.  Peabody, MA: Hendrikson Publishers, 2002; p. 199.

28th Sunday - B (October 14, 2012)


Image source:  Heinrich Hofmann, Christ and the Rich Young Ruler

October 5, 2012

27th Sunday - B

Mark 10: 2 - 16

The Goodness of God Restored

The Gospel of Mark begins with the proclamation, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  Then, with Jesus in the desert, Mark portrays Jesus "among wild beast, and the angels ministered to him" (1: 13).  Thus, Mark indicates that the Son of God has come to restore the original goodness of God’s creation, where there is perfect harmony. [1] 

Next, the very first words of Jesus’ preaching confirms this new time.  Jesus announces, "This is the time of fulfilment"  (1:13).

In this context must we look at this Sunday’s Gospel.  

In his response to the Pharisees’ challenge, Jesus takes us back to the original plan of the loving God for all creation.  

Living in the Kingdom of God demands attitudes and behaviors that may be impossible and unreasonable by human standards.  

With the child-like appreciation and awe must we welcome God’s generous gift of love.

With the gift of God’s love, men and women can live truly as children of God.  In marriage, they are a sacrament, sign and instrument of God’s grace.  They no longer act our of selfish ego and desire.  They love and share the love of God.  They bring God’s love to others.  

That is "God’s original design for men and women." [2]    It was once disrupted by human sins and selfishness; it is now restored by the presence of Christ to establish the Reign of God.

[1]  Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002; p. 192.
[2] Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B. Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1993; p. 189.

27th Sunday - B (October 7, 2012)


Image source: http://www.htmlbible.com