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  Weekly Scripture Studies

October 26, 2003 Thirtieth Sunday In Ordinary Time

The information and commentary presented each week on this page are actually notes for the Saturday Scripture Class held at St. Raymond Parish, Dublin, Ca. These notes are not intended to be used in isolation but as background information for the readings and starting points for group discussion. This page is updated with the following Sunday's readings each Monday night (California Time). The Saturday Morning Scripture Class meets to discuss the weekend Mass readings each Saturday from 9:15 to 10:15 in Multipurpose Room No. 2. No registration or prior arrangement is needed; everyone is welcome anytime.
This week we celebrate the Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time. There are only four more Sundays left before the start of the new liturgical year. The readings this week draw our attention to our sense of sight, both physical and spiritual sight. Jeremiah looked around and with his physical eyes he saw a beaten, downtrodden people driven from their homes and a land covered with destruction. With his prophet's eyes of faith, however, he saw God gathering His people and leading them home in a joyful, triumphal homecoming. What do I see when I look at my own situation? Do I see only the troubles and difficulties of life or do I see God's guiding grace leading me through the mess back to where He wants me to be? With my eyes of faith do I see myself as one of God's people being called back to His kingdom for ever? The reading from Hebrews presents a vision of Jesus in the role of High Priest constantly interceding for us and sympathizing with us over our weaknesses. How aware am I of my constant need for God's grace? In the Gospel reading, a physically blind man with 20-20 spiritual vision sees Jesus as the Messiah and calls out to Him. Do I have the blind man's faith to call out to Jesus to give me spiritual vision just as He gave Bartimaeus physical vision?

First Reading: Jeremiah 31: 7-9

7 For thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered his people,
the remnant of Israel.

8 Behold, I will bring them back
from the land of the north;
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.

9 They departed in tears,
but I will console them and guide them;
I will lead them to brooks of water,
on a level road, so that none shall stumble.
For I am a father to Israel,
Ephraim is my first-born.
NOTES on First Reading:
* 31:7 Verses 7-14 is a hymn of joy about the new exodus of the people of God. It begins with a formal call to rejoice because God has bestowed salvation on His people. He will take them back home to Israel. The triumphal march through the dessert brings joy to both the returnees and the foreign nations. See Isa 12:6 40:9-10; 44:23; 55:11; Ps 47:2, 9-10; 8:33-36;95-96 The remnant of Israel is the small group of people who escaped death in the destruction of 721 and have been purified by the exile experience. They now are to be reconstituted as the New Israel that will be faithful to her God.

* 31:8 The company of exiles being brought home is made up of the sick, the lame, the blind and the weak. Their weakness is a sign of the miraculous nature of the event. Their survival and success in returning will be accomplished only by God's grace. They come from the north and the ends of the world which indicates Assyria where they have been kept captive. See Isa 43:5-6

* 31:9 There is an opposition between sorrow and joy expressed here that parallels the same opposition of feelings in another hymn of the return from exile, Psalm 126.

The brooks or streams of water are a reference to the water from the rock incidents of the first exodus. See
Exodus 17:1-7; Num 20:1-13

The level road indicates the ease of passage that God will provide in contrast to the first exodus. See Isa 40:4.

Second Reading: Hebrews 5: 1-6

1 Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness 3 and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. 4 No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him:

"You are my son;
this day I have begotten you";

6 just as he says in another place:
"You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek."
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 5:1-6 The writer considers the role of Jesus in comparison to and in contrast with that of the Aaronic High Priest. He says that Jesus has certain attributes in common with those Old Testament High Priests:
  1. All priests are chosen to represent the people before God concerning the things of God.
  2. The priests must have been one with men.
  3. The priests are chosen and appointed by God.
* 5:1 The humanity of Jesus is important in order for Him to be an effective High Priest for us. In the Old Testament tradition the High Priest was identified with the people. When he writes that the "High Priest would offer sacrifices and gifts" the writer is thinking specifically of the rites of the Day of Atonement (See Heb 9:7.) in which sacrifices were offered specifically for the sins of the people (Lev 16:30-34).
In the Old Testament, the only sins for which sacrificial atonements were impossible were those "sins committed with a high hand" as set out in Numbers 15:30. These seem to be the ones that one commits with a set purpose rather than those into which one would fall.

* 5:2 The writer uses a nearly untranslatable word, "metriopahein", that is often translated as "with compassion", "gently", or "patiently". This is the only place where it is used in the Bible and is borrowed from the Greek writings on virtue. It indicated the proper mean between the extreme passions at either end of a spectrum. An example would be the mean between flaming anger and indulgence on the part of parents with regard to their children. It is with this proper mean between the passions that Jesus deals with us, "patiently" and "with compassion".

* 5:3 Here Jesus differs from the other priests that came before Him in that He did not need to offer sacrifice and gifts to atone for any sins of His own.

* 5:4 Aaron and his sons were chosen by God for the ministry of the Old Testament priesthood. See
Exodus 28:1, Lev 8:2, Num 3:3, 16:5, 16:7, 16:40, 17:3-11.

* 5:5 Jesus too did not give Himself the honor of taking the position of high priest but was chosen by God the Father. The quote is from Ps 2:7 .

* 5:6 The quote which has been applied to Jesus is from Ps 110:4 and refers to a priesthood that is seen as greater and more ancient than that of Aaron, the first Jewish High Priest.

Gospel Reading: Mark 10: 46-52

46 They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. 47 On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me." 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me." 49 Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, he is calling you." 50 He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. 51 Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." 52 Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
NOTES on Gospel:
* 10:46-52 This narrative is a prophecy of the disciples getting their spiritual vision and in many ways applies to us in this same way. This healing of blind man/men at Jericho is also found in Mt 20:29-34 and Luke 18:35-43, although with variations. Jericho is 15-20 miles from Jerusalem.

* 10:47 "Son of David" is a Messianic title that is publicly applied to Jesus here for the first time in this Gospel. This is the first time Mark shows Jesus being recognized as Messiah by a human other than Peter.

* 10:50 The garment or cloak that Bartimaeus threw aside was probably the cloth that he had spread out to receive offering of alms on. It may well be seen as symbolic of casting aside the old order of things or the old life of blindness.

* 10:51 Here Bartimaeus expresses faith in Jesus' power to heal.

* 10:52 " ...followed him on the way" means literally to Jerusalem because that is where Jesus was going but in the early church "the Way" meant Christianity itself. It was probably meant to indicate that Bartimaeus became a disciple at this time and followed Jesus from then on as a disciple.

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The scripture quotes are from the text of the New American Bible with revised New Testament copyright © 1986,1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.