The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]
Jeremiah 31:7-9 + Hebrews 5:1-6 + Mark 10:46-52
October 24, 2021
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
Catholics believe in the inalienable dignity of every human life, from the moment of conception until natural death. In the face of a culture opposed to such belief, we need to desire that those who disagree would see that life is a gift: that they would join us in seeing life as a blessing to be promoted, fostered, and chosen.
But how do you bring about such a complete change of view? It would almost be like a blind man regaining his sight.
In Sunday’s Gospel Reading, Jesus gives Bartimaeus his sight when He says: “Go your way. Your faith has saved you.” But notice what the next two phrases of the Gospel reveal. These next two phrases are linked. They are really two sides of the same coin. The evangelist tells us first that “immediately, [Bartimaeus] received his sight”; and second, that Bartimaeus “followed [Jesus] on the way.”
Reflect on how the greatest gift—the strongest virtue—that Jesus offers us is the divine virtue of caritas (sometimes called “divine charity” or simply “love”). This greatest virtue is the glory of being human. God’s divine life is the end—the goal—of man. We pray this truth in the Rosary: the Joyful, Luminous, and Sorrowful Mysteries all lead to the Glorious Mysteries as the chapters of a novel lead to its climax. Likewise, all the virtues of the Christian life lead to its goal: the divine virtue of caritas; divine charity; divine love: the life of the Trinity who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We can only see how and why this is true if we see human life itself as gift. We only see this truth if we understand the reason for the blind man receiving his sight in today’s Gospel Reading. Jesus did not restore Bartimaeus’ sight just to ease his earthly life. Jesus worked this miracle also to help Bartimaeus along the path to Heaven.
Jesus tells us that the blind man regains his sight because of his faith. But the blind man shows us his faith by what he does. When Jesus releases Bartimaeus by saying, “Go / your / way,” the man with vision follows Jesus on Jesus’ way. In other words, the person with vision makes the Way of Jesus his own way. There is no other way for us to walk if we want to be truly happy. Every other path results in a dead-end, or an endless circle going nowhere.
So how do we travel this Way of Jesus? By a wheel. Picture a wheel and use this image to sum up how the Christian virtues work in concert within the healthy Christian soul.
The first virtue is humility, which is like the center of the wheel. Humility is the mother of the other virtues, which radiate out from humility.
Then the virtue of prudence is like the wheel’s axle. In other words, prudence is the “inner ear” of the soul, helping us to keep our balance and to steer our actions.
Most of the other virtues are like the wheel’s spokes. Consider courage. Courage flows from humility. By contrast, false courage seeks to dominate and make my ego ever larger. But in Christian humility, I do not worry about my ego. However, this courage still has to be steered and given balance by prudence. After all, even the martyr has to choose the best time to be courageous: he doesn’t want to be foolhardy or give up his life for a cause that could be defended more simply.
But what is the goal of this courage? If the spokes radiate out from humility and are steered by prudence, where do they radiate out towards? The goal of every virtue is the divine virtue of caritas. This divine virtue is the wheel’s tire. It’s where—so to speak—the rubber hits the road, and God’s grace animates daily life.
So in humility, we give up our own self, so that we can be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Jesus is the divine caritas who became flesh and dwelt among us, for us and our salvation. This is what Bartimaeus learns in Sunday’s Gospel.
This is what happens in the life of every blind person, as he gives up his own way through the world, and instead follows Jesus on the Way: the Way that leads to Calvary, and through Calvary into the eternal life of God.