First Reading CommentaryThis Reading describes the joy of Israel's return from exile; God gathering His people to console them, guide them and lead them. In a prophetic sense this is Jesus delivering us from sin and death.
From the ends of the earth He calls us to repentance. He proclaims that our captivity to sin and death need not be because He is the Way, He is the Truth, He is the Life and He is the Light that removes the darkness of sin and death. He gives purpose and meaning to the lame, the blind, and the elderly. He is Consolation for our tears. He is our Guide when we are fearful and uncertain about what lies ahead. He invites us to abandon our waywardness and come to Him.
It's interesting to note that the blind, the lame and the mothers with child described here as an immense throng suggests something that is countercultural in our day because it intimates the dignity that God ordains for the handicapped, the unborn child, indeed, all human life.
Second Reading Commentary
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews is giving a job description of what a priest is and what a priest does. He is our representative before God; he is in need of forgiveness just like the rest of us. He does not make himself a priest; he is a priest because God has called him to it.
When examining Christ's qualifications, what is apparent is that He is God the Son Who is our representative before our heavenly Father because it was God the Father Who called Him to His Priesthood. He is not in need of forgiveness because He never sinned; but He became sin for us so that He could also become the Sacrifice and atonement for our sins. He took our sins upon Himself giving Him the incomprehensible vocation of both Priest and Victim. And there is great comfort and assurance in knowing that He is patient and merciful because His boundless love for us led Him to become like us, living according to our means under extremely humble circumstances so that He could feel our weakness, our hurt, our pain and our shame; and also take it all upon Himself and deal with it in a way that only Almighty God is capable of undertaking.
Who will help lead the blind if not the One Who can see? As always, God is to be praised for His mercy in performing physical miracles but the healings have a much deeper, spiritual meaning for all of us.
This weekend's Gospel speaks about conversion and the healing of spiritual blindness. None of us possess 20/20 vision when it comes to spiritual sight; otherwise, we would all be sinless. Since all sin can be linked to pride, conversion is thus a daily, on-going process and must begin at the Throne of grace in the practice of daily prayer. This is exactly what Bartimaeus does here by calling out, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."
The next verse tells us that many rebuked Bartimaeus and told him to be silent. How true this is today! Our culture makes attempts to silence our love for our Lord – to remove His Holy Name from the public eye. Prayer is taken away from schools, Crucifixes are even removed from universities that call themselves Catholic; the Ten Commandments are removed from government buildings and public places, many companies do not allow their employees to display anything of a religious nature at their desks; and the list goes on and on.
The beginning of this Gospel tells us that Jesus was with a sizeable crowd making it reasonable to assume that Jesus, at this moment, is very busy. But He stops everything to answer the cry of Bartimaeus. From this we can see that even though God has an entire universe to care for, somehow on a very personal level, we as individuals are very important to Him. He loves us collectively and individually with so great a love that it's just not possible for us to understand or fully appreciate.
Bartimaeus is told by the others to take courage. Those who say this to him represent what we need to be for each other. We have to be courageous and at the same time encourage each other.
Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. That throwing aside of the cloak represents an abandonment of a former way of life, a life of immorality, a life that did not include God. Each day is a struggle for us to throw aside our cloaks because temptation would have us go and pick it up again. But it's precisely in those moments of weakness that Jesus calls out to us: "What do you want Me to do for you?" Bartimaeus answers, "Master I want to see." What do we need to see? There are many answers to that question. To begin with, we need to recognize and see our own need for conversion. We need to see that we are in need of each other. We need to see Jesus as the Gateway Who provides our escape from temptation.
As Christians, being followers of Christ is not only what we do, but more importantly it is who we are. The Gospel text tells us that immediately Bartimaeus received his sight and followed Jesus. This is showing us that Jesus is our Healer, Who gives us comfort in our on-going conversion process. He is the One we can turn to in good times and bad, and the One we follow and serve until He calls us home; and by following Him, home is where He is leading us.