Scripture reflections: ‘I will comfort you . . . and lead you back’

14 October 2021

The readings this week challenge us to reflect both on the ways we might be blind, and on the gift of new vision that is freely offered. 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, 24 October 2021

Lectionary readings
First reading: Jeremiah 31:7-9
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 125(126)
Second reading: Hebrews 5:1-6
Gospel: Mark 10:46-52

Link to readings

In the First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah speaks of a God who gathers his people to heal them. The Psalm sings of these and other wonderful works: ‘The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy’.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews (Second Reading) shows that the high priest is one called by God to deal gently with the people, because he himself knows weakness.

And in the Gospel, Jesus calls Bartimaeus, a blind beggar of Jericho, to him into discipleship. Though blind, Bartimaeus already has insight into who Jesus is and, when he hears him pass by, shouts in desperation even when told to be quiet. For Bartimaeus, Jesus is now ‘Master’, and his relationship with him brings healing and new life.

Let’s pray, this week, that we might recognise the great things the Lord works for us, and that our hope lies in God, who calls to us through our weaknesses and limitations.

Jeremiah 31: 7–9
The Lord says this: Shout with joy for Jacob! Hail the chief of nations! Proclaim! Praise! Shout: ‘The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!’

See, I will bring them back from the land of the North and gather them from the far ends of earth; all of them: the blind and the lame, women with child, women in labour: a great company returning here.

They had left in tears, I will comfort them as I lead them back; I will guide them to streams of water, by a smooth path where they will not stumble. For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born son.

In my place of prayer, I begin by settling, using a method that is helpful – paying attention to my body, to my breathing, or to what I can hear. I ask for the guidance of the Spirit. I take my time. When I have become still, I take the text and, slowly, read it two or three times. What am I noticing about this reading?

I pause over any of the words that may catch my attention – lame, tears, stumble … gather, comfort, guide … I stay with whatever I’m drawn to, pondering any significance for me at this time. I might like to look back, prayerfully, over my week. Are there any situations in my life, at the moment, which are leaving me feeling lost and scattered, or which are bringing me to tears?

I talk to the Lord honestly, as a trusting child would to a parent. Perhaps there are areas that are making me feel deep joy, or a sense of being gathered and guided. I pause to ponder and give thanks for these. Again, I share any thoughts and feelings with the Lord.

Finally, I ask myself how I might want respond in the coming week. Perhaps I ask for the help of my parent Lord, that I might have a heart as described in the Entrance Antiphon for this Sunday: ‘Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord’. I end with Glory be ...

Mark 10: 46–52
As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’ And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Courage,’ they said ‘get up; he is calling you.’

So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbuni,’ the blind man said to him ‘Master, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you.’ And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.

As always, I take my time to come into prayer. Eventually, I turn to the Gospel text, and read slowly ... Perhaps I imagine the scene … hearing Bartimaeus shouting out in desperation, even when told to be quiet … and then how Jesus responds to his enthusiastic determination ... how he calls him. I take time to ponder.

Do I notice the Lord passing by in moments of my life? Have I ever felt the need for courage in going against the majority, as Bartimaeus does? Perhaps I notice his movement as he sheds his cloak. Can I recall times in my life when I have thrown off something in my desire to rush to the Lord?

Now I look to Jesus ... the Lord, who has ‘come to give sight to the blind’. He is full of respect and asks Bartimaeus what he wants ... what do I notice about Jesus who asks questions, and doesn’t ever presume? I let Jesus ask me that same question. What do I want to say to him in reply? What is my deepest desire at this time?

Bartimaeus follows Jesus down the road (or in some other translations, ‘along the way’ – an ancient name for being a Christian). How would I like to respond to the Lord now, at the close of my prayer?

Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham