Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless you!
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
October 24, 2021
Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52
We all are Bartimaeus! We all, in some way, can see ourselves in him for we too are blind to some degree to the stumbling blocks in our lives, blind to the obstacles, to the things that can trip us up, but we all have also experienced the touch of God in our lives.
Bartimaeus is a model for all Christians. In his life we hear how we too can respond when we find ourselves in need of vision, in need of sight, and after God heals us.
Bartimaeus knew that he would be able to see Jesus only by persisting in calling out in faith. Only by being healed of his blindness would he be able to follow Jesus without stumbling and hurting himself. He knew that his relationship with “the Master,” would cure his blindness and show him the way to follow.
Faith in God gives us vision, an ability to see. When we see, we then follow.
Terry Anderson was a journalist with the Associated Press. He was captured be Hezbollah militants in Lebanon in the 1980s and held captive for seven years. He was tortured and kept blindfolded, in the dark, and chained to his bed and the wall during that whole time. A Catholic priest, Father Lawrence Jenco, was also a hostage who spent much of his time in prayer, making a rosary out of threads from a sack, and celebrated clandestine Mass whenever he could. Mr. Anderson wrote after his release:
“Where is faith found? … There is no God, the cynics say; we made Him up out of our need and fear of death. And happily, they offer up their test-tube proofs. A mystery, the priests all say, and point to saints that prove their faith in acts of love and sacrifice. But what of us who are not saints, only common human sinners? And what of those who in their need and pain cry out to God and go on suffering? I do not know — I wish I did. Sometimes I feel all the world’s pain. I only say that once in my own need I felt a light and warm and loving touch that eased my soul and banished doubt and let me go on to the end. It is not proof — there can be none. Faith is what you find.”
After his release, Mr. Anderson went on to tell many people of his experience of faith, healing and freedom; so did Father Jenco.
Although I, too, hold up the saints as examples of faith, perhaps what is most convincing, most persuasive, is our own personal faith experiences. Perhaps what is most convincing to most people is our sharing our personal faith experiences with each other, like Mr. Anderson and Father Jenco did.
Are we as a parish willing to tell each other about our own experiences of faith and God? Yes, we all are Bartimaeus, suffering from blindness, but we all also are like Terry Anderson and Father Jenco; we have experienced in some way the touch of God. If we are to be a “welcoming community of faith filled disciples” as our parish vision statement states, we can and must share with each other our experiences of blindness and being set free by the touch of God.
Think about your own life. Where are the blind spots? Where is the darkness? In what areas is your faith shaky? We all have them. We all are blind in some ways. We all are Bartimaeus. Maybe our blindness is ignorance of the faith. We can learn. Maybe it is not knowing how to live out the faith. We can get involved in the various ministries in this parish to teach us. Maybe our blindness is because of our sins. We can be reconciled through the Sacrament of Penance. Like Bartimaeus, we can throw aside our old cloaks and put on a new one, live a different life in the freedom of God.
Now think when you know God touched your life, when things became clearer, when you began to see again, when you were healed. Will you tell others about those times? Will you let others know that God exists?
Like Bartimaeus, like Terry Anderson and Father Jenco, we need to continually call out to God and ask Him to help us see Him, who we are, and where we must go.
“Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! I want to see!” can be our prayer also.
Our faith will show us the way. Our faith will be like a light. Our faith will heal us. Our faith in God is the road map for our lives.
Remember, Bartimaeus was not only healed of his blindness, but he followed after he was healed. We too must first cry out and be healed; then we must follow. One way for us to follow is to tell each other about how God, Jesus, has touched our lives, how we have known God, and in that way support each other in our lives of faith.
Finally, can you imagine the joy that must have been Bartimaeus’ when he regained his sight? When he began to follow? I have no doubt that he didn’t silently follow Jesus. Rather, he shouted out the great things God had done for him, just as loudly as he had shouted out to Jesus, “Son of David, have pity on me!” His joy is ours too, as we tell each other the wonderful things God has done for us.