Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings




Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

October 24, 2021

The Readings: Jeremiah 31.7-9; Hebrews 5.1-6;  Mark 10.46-52

There was a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, sitting by the roadside (Gospel Reading). 
I am a Bartimaeus. 
In the practice of contemplative prayer, I know experientially that I am blind in the spiritual sense.  I am blind because my interior senses are clouded with the veil of a fallen, human condition.  I am of myself unable to see the light of the Gospel; I am susceptible to self-delusion and lies.  I am blind because faith often is more like a seeing-eye dog than direct sight, more like the hazy, undistinguishable figures of fading sight.  I am blind because God is in a light incomprehensible.
“For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood” (1st Cor. 13.12).

The one who practices the discipline of contemplative prayer knows well that he or she is a beggar.  I scrounge about for my bread, for the strands of my life, for the strength of grace to rise up out of my innate powerlessness.  Each day I live in the strategies of intercession for myself, for the Church, for the human family.  In fact, the Church is more a beggar than a glittering princess on the top of the world.  I am in good company in the Church of beggars.

In my contemplative practice, I sit, like Bartimaeus.  Twice a day I take my attentive, centered position in a period of silent prayer, seated, eyes closed, hands folded, feet on the ground, the Holy Name, as the sacred word gently leading me into the silence of the cloud of unknowing and forgetting.  In this position I am a beggar.  I am on the outside, outside of the insiders.  I am apart from the centrifugal forces. 

In my contemplative practice, I sit by the roadside.  I am not too far from it all.  I am not of the world but I am in the world.  My contemplative practice makes me not of world, but by the roadside where I take my place because I am in the world. 
That great crowd surrounding Jesus is really the sacred crowd, the moving, shoving, searching, multitude of all singularly blessed persons, all created in the image of God and redeemed by Christ. (Potentially, because God waits upon the yes from the heart so that redemption can flow into the soul in the rebirth of grace.)  The great crowd, the sizeable crowd, passes by.  And who is in the midst?  Jesus is leaving Jericho with his disciples and the crowd.  Jesus is there among all the peoples. 

Live the Gospel!  Sit in silence. But sit near the road; just near enough; be ready to cry out to Jesus in the midst of the crowd.
Be Bartimaeus; cry out in your prayer for all the crowds, for each member of the human race.  In God’s eye there are no crowds, only persons, unique in their identity in His loving providence.  

In this question of identity, Jesus sees each person in his or her unique identity because He so absolutely and infinitely knows His identity:
 Even Christ did not glorify himself with the office of high priest; he received it from the One who said to him, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you’  (The Second Reading).  

We are born with an imperfect identity, oriented in a wayward direction.  We need re-birth with the identity that God re-creates in grace of Christ’s redemption.  Come as you are so you can be transformed into the image of the re-born child of God.
It is from His unique identity within the Holy Trinity that He confers identity on each and everyone created through Him: “The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world” (John 1.9).  In that way He is priest to us: He confers the identity of son or daughter from His unique Identity as Word, as Son within the bosom of the Father through the Holy Spirit. 

For that reason the Gospel knows the name of this poor blind beggar, Bartimaeus, for all time his name is proclaimed when the Gospel is proclaimed.  His faith- contact with the Lord lifts him out of the anonymous crowd.  He is to become forever this new person, unique in his creation and redemption.  So is everyone born into the human family and then re-born in grace, begotten of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 
Cry out, like Bartimaeus, cry out for all of us who are Bartimaeus, that we be healed: Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! 

In our contemplative prayer practice we are gradually learning who we are as we regain our sight, our insight into our divine identity through grace.
In our prayer without any doubt we receive the healing answer: Be on your way!  Your faith has healed you.  We, named in our identity, follow Jesus up the road.
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 (First Reading).

Fundamental to this contemplative process is the reality of sacramental action within the Church: our surrender to the transformation that the Holy Eucharist effects.  There is the source and summit of our being enlightened and re-born from grace to grace.

--William Fredrickson, (Secular Oblate OSB; D.Min.)



For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Frederickson