Mass Readings for April 1 2017.
Jeremiah 18: 20
John 7: 40-53
In today's Gospel we hear these thought-provoking words..."No one has ever spoken like this man". The guards had been instructed to go to arrest the Lord, Jesus of Nazareth. But having listened to His voice, His tone of deep Authority, they returned to the Jewish leaders without their prisoner. We have to ask, why? What stopped them from carrying out their orders? Was the tone of Jesus filled with the Unseen Authority of God? We go to another moment which speaks to our souls and reveals an answer to our question. This was an incident that happened shortly before the incident we read about in the Gospel of today.
At the time of Jesus, Jericho was flourishing with the construction of new villas, wines and spices and perfumes and dates were in abundance. It was the playground of the rich and famous. Herod the Great often languished there in his winter palaces. Because such opulence attracted such wealth, it was also a magnet for beggars. The main streets were lined with hundreds of them, all begging and loudly clamoring for alms from the rich who were passing by. Among them was a man named Bartimaeus. Into this bustling scene came Jesus the Christ. He was walking with His disciples along the road that connected Jericho to Jerusalem where the Passover would soon begin. He was walking toward His Passion and Death.
Now, there was no media at that time giving updates on which people of importance would be arriving in the city. But a far more effective method of advertising was at work. Word of mouth. News had traveled very fast among the beggar world that Jesus of Nazareth would be in Jericho so before He even got to the pathway, multiple voices were raised, pleading to Him for help. He had already passed by the beggar Bartimaeus when above all the shouts and bustle and sounds came a voice,
"Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me". (Mark 10: 46-52 )
The beggar was told to be silent but he continued to shout. And the Master stopped in His tracks.
What happened next speaks to the mystery of a tone heard by the Lord in the voice of the beggar. And the Unseen Authority in the Lord responded. What do we understand about "tone of voice"?
Do you remember when you were small and you were about to do something dangerous? Like stepping off the sidewalk into the path of an oncoming car? Do you remember that tone in your parent's voice that made you freeze on the spot? Have you ever been at the end of your strength,on your knees, weeping, pleading with God to help you?
In both instances, our voice takes on a particular tone, one that demands immediate attention, be it from another human being or from God. It's a tone that holds depths of ourselves, reaching out to someone whom we desperately need to hear us. This was the tone that passed between the beggar and the ears of Jesus in Whom was the Authoritative Voice of the Holy One. It was the spirit in Bartimaeus which alerted the Spirit of God in the Son. That very same authority that would later be heard by the guards who, as a result would not arrest Him.
And Jesus said, "Call him over" ( Mark 49 ). Then, "throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet". In this remarkable gesture usually read unnoticed, there's a world of meaning for us. "Throwing his cloak aside..." This beggar's cloak was his entire world of possessions. It gave him modesty during the day, protection from the intense heat of the sun during the day, warmth during the cold nights. When he threw it aside to run to Jesus, he was leaving every single thing that he owned. The Spirit of the Living God had heard the tone of deep humility and trust and faith and need in the shout of the beggar. And the Savior responded... "COME".
What tone do we use when we call out the Lord's name? What do we leave when we run to Him when He calls us? Can we truly believe in the Voice that holds such Authority to give life? If we did, would our tone of asking ever be the same again? It was to be the last miracle which Jesus performed before His Passion:
"His is the last miraculous healing that Jesus performs before his passion, and it is no accident that it should be that of a blind person, someone whose eyes have lost the light." (Pope Benedict XVI).
It was the miracle of Light into the darkness. Bartimaeus gave his all to enter into the Light.
What of us?