"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
October 28: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
• Jeremiah 31:7-9
Synopsis: Life is a journey and a search for the one, true God. Though many deny God’s existence, the desire for him is written on every human heart. This week's readings remind us of that journey, that quest, that hunger for God. In the first reading, Jeremiah tells his fellow Jews that their exile is about to end; God will soon “lead them on a level road” back to the Land of Promise. The psalm celebrates their return. Having been driven from Jerusalem in tears, the exiles returned with “mouths filled with laughter.”
In the second reading, Jesus, the “high priest,” has been “glorified,” that is, taken up to heaven through what he suffered. As man, he can sympathize with our weaknesses. As high priest, he gives us access to heaven and shows us the way. Indeed, he is the way.
In this week’s Gospel Jesus and his disciples begin their final ascent to Jerusalem. The healing of the blind man was a vivid reminder of Jeremiah’s prediction that God would gather the blind and lame and lead them to the Holy City. As soon as he regains his sight, the blind man, Bartimaeus, sprang up, joined the throng of disciples and followed Jesus “on the way.” The name Bartimaeus means “valuable” or “esteemed.” In ancient times, someone like him would have been considered a worthless outcast, unimportant, nobody: an attitude evident by those who rebuked him and told him to be quiet. But to God, Bartimaeus is precious in his sight and worthy of his kingdom.
Key verse: “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” (Jer 31:8).
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The universe was created ‘in a state of journeying’ (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history” (Nos. 302-303).
Pope Benedict XVI: “The desire for God, the search for God, is profoundly inscribed into each human soul and cannot disappear. St. Augustine's words are true: we men are restless until we have found God. This restlessness also exists today, and is an expression of the hope that man may, ever and anew, even today, start to journey towards this God" (Interview, Oct.15).
Life application: From the least to the greatest, God cares for everyone and wants to gather the whole human family to himself. In a world that typically values people only in terms of their usefulness, this message is both timely and significant. No matter how disabled or “useless” someone might seem, they are precious in God‘s sight. As Catholics we believe in the dignity of every human being from conception to natural death for we’re all, in a sense, like Bartimaeus: blind beggars touched by God and fellow pilgrims on the way to heaven.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
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