They came to Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to call out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” Many people scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying, “Take heart! Get up, he is calling you!” He immediately threw aside his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus.
Then Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Master, let me see again!” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” And, immediately, he could see, and he followed Jesus along the road.
Saints come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are rather serious-minded (St. Aloysius Gonzaga), while others have a sunny disposition (St. John Berchmans). But the saint we remember today, St. Philip Neri, was in a class by himself, for he was a great joker.
Born in 1515, he died on this date in 1595, having lived all his life in Italy. As a young man he studied philosophy and theology, but at 23 years old abandoned his studies and for 13 years led the life of a fervent layman dedicated to prayer and the Christian apostolate. At the urgings of his spiritual director, he was ordained a priest at the age of 35. As a priest he organized excursions to various churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. Gradually several of his followers became priests living together as a community. This was the beginning of what became a new religious Order, the Congregation of the Oratory. Throughout his life Philip was “considered an eccentric buffoon studying to mortify himself and proud Renaissance gentlemen into humility” with all kinds of comic tricks and disguises. Philip Neri stands out among all saints for his gaiety and personal attractiveness.
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