30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Little Suzie concluded her prayers at night by saying, “Dear God, before I finish, please take care of Mommy, please take care of Daddy, please take care of my baby brother, Grandma and Grandpa…and please God, take of your yourself too, or else we’re all sunk!
Yes, Little Suzie knew that all of us depend on God for our well-being and thriving in life and that without God, we’d surely be in an unfortunate predicament. Bartimaeus, in our Gospel for today has that same deep down conviction. Blind and without the means to care for himself, he turns, in faith, to the only one who could pull him out of his misery and despair: Jesus, the Son of David. Though he’d never see Jesus with his own physical eyes, he more importantly saw him with the eyes of faith and believed that Jesus had the power to restore his sight and to bring him closer to the Kingdom of God. And he won’t let anyone quiet him or try to impede his appeals to Jesus, crying out all the more loudly for mercy.
Jesus hears him and without thinking twice, asks that the man be brought to him. You see, Jesus was impressed by his determination and persistence. He was impressed by the man’s utter refusal to hush up and let Jesus just pass on by, without getting a chance to meet him personally and to speak to him from his heart. He was impressed by the man’s resolve not to give up and his belief that God still cared about him personally and about his blindness. Notice that the man didn’t go on-and-on about his life or beat around the bush when Jesus asks him what he wants. No, he was direct and sincere and honest from the get-go. “Teacher, let me see again,” he says. And Jesus responds, “Go, your faith has made you well” and immediately the man regains his sight and becomes a loyal follower of Christ.
That blind beggar can teach us a lot about how, we too, are being invited to approach God with all our needs. Christ wants us to approach him —first and foremost— as a sinner, as one who’s broken, marred and scarred by sin, and longs to be made whole.
He wants us to come to him without fear and with boldness, trusting that the Lord’s on our side! He doesn’t want us to come with feelings of entitlement or with an attitude that we’re justified in what we’re asking. No, Jesus wants us to have the humility to allow God to decide whether or not what we think we need, is actually in God’s plan for our lives.
Like Bartimaeus, Jesus challenges each one of us to come to him for a personal encounter, and to come to know him one-on-one. It’s easy to pray to God when we’re gathered together and have one common voice in Church. It’s easy to pray when we’re an anonymous member of the crowd. But Jesus doesn’t want our encounters with him to be only nameless encounters. He wants us to pray personally to him for our personal needs! He wants us to come to him without hesitation and, knowing full-well, that he’s listening to our humble prayers made in faith. What’s more, Jesus wants us to keep our feelings of unworthiness at bay and to remember that God loves us no matter what mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.
Christ only asks that our requests be made from the heart, and NOT from the head. We shouldn’t have to think of how we’re going to justify asking the Lord for what it is we’re seeking. We shouldn’t have to try to impress God with lofty words or reasons either as to why our requests are being made. We shouldn’t try to place conditions upon our needs or try to bribe God to do whatever it is we’re asking. No, Jesus wants our prayerful requests to ooze out of the deepest recesses of our hearts, to lay our brokenness before him, to let him see our woundedness and the hurts and frustrations we’re experiencing.
Our Lord urges us to speak plainly to him, without obfuscation of our intent. We can’t hide our true motivations from God anyway, so why should we even attempt to try?
Lastly, our Lord doesn’t want us to block others from turning to him or to allow peer pressure or issues of social acceptability to cloud our resolve in approaching the Lord.
He wants us to pray to him, despite the jeerers and the nay-sayers. He wants us to reach out to him, despite those who would try to convince us that God has more important people to help or grander plans to be concerned about than our personal problems. No, our Lord wants us to have the persistence and the determination of the blind beggar and to never allow anyone or anything to keep us from asking for that which will bring us closer to the Kingdom of God.
The man’s healing was a sure sign that he’d been brought closer to God’s kingdom. Though our own healings or requests for wholeness may not be expressed as an outward, physical change, our lives may nevertheless be altered in no less a profound manner, and our walk toward the Kingdom of God may be no less radical and transformative than the blind beggar’s. What we have to remember is that the Lord’s never too busy for us and that there’s nothing more that he’d like, than to help each one of us to progress with greater eagerness of heart, mind, and soul, to enter the Kingdom of God.
That’s why, after the healing, Jesus says, “Go; your faith has made you well.” (Mark 10:52a) And what is Bartimaeus’ response? “He immediately regained his sight and followed Jesus on the way.” (Mark 10:52b) Yes, it was Bartimaeus’ faith that was the foundation for his request and the basis for the Lord intervening in his life. But it was also Bartimaeus’ faith that impelled him afterward to be an active disciple of Christ, following him wherever he led. Like Bartimaeus, each of us has been gifted with faith! We’ve also been given a particular mission by the Lord because of that faith. Our response to that faith must be a lively witness to the good news that God has saved us!
Today we celebrate World Mission Sunday, whose theme is based the words in Acts 4: 20: “It is impossible for us NOT to speak about what we have seen and heard.” Isn’t that true?!
Whenever we’ve experience something miraculous or awesome in our lives, we can’t help but speak about it! We want everyone to know! This Sunday’s readings invite us all to be in awe and wonder at God’s enormous compassion! This Sunday’s readings invite us to be utterly amazed at God’s “divine love for us which, not only saves His people and guides them to salvation in the Old Covenant,” but also saves “the world through the only Mediator, Jesus Christ, in the New Covenant.” We’re being impelled by that powerful compassion and divine love to take this opportunity to respond to the human poverty rampant in our world that cries out to the Lord for relief and for mercy. Jesus wants to lead us by faith, to open our eyes and our hearts to welcome and embrace “the vision of a suffering and triumphant Messiah” for our world. He invites us to be in a continual state of mission, a continual state of announcing good news to the poor, a continual state of readiness to see with God’s eyes and to heal in God’s holy name.
In his message to the Pontifical Mission Societies on May 21, 2020, Pope Francis wrote the following words: “To be ‘ in a state of mission ’ reflects gratitude. It is the response of one, who by gratitude, is made docile to the Spirit and is therefore free. Only in the freedom of gratitude can one truly know the Lord, whereas it is useless and, above all, improper to insist on presenting missionary activity and the proclamation of the Gospel, as if they were a binding duty, a kind of ‘ contractual obligation ’ on the part of the baptized. ” No, the Lord wants our embrace of missionary activity to be freely offered and our service to be led by his vision of a Kingdom of Justice, Love and Peace. May Our Lady of the Missions and Saint Joseph, Patron of Canada, intercede for us now and always.” Amen. (used with permission from publication of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith)
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