October 28, 2018 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Jim Miller

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
 Reading 1 JER 31:7-9

Responsorial Psalm PS 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

  1. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Reading 2 HEB 5:1-6

Alleluia CF. 2 TM 1:10

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death
    and brought life to light through the Gospel.

Gospel MK 10:46-52

Homily—October 27 & 28, 2018   30th Sunday in Ordinary Time


            I truly appreciated the opportunity to make a retreat at American Martyrs Retreat House in Cedar Falls and to be with over 20 priests and to have a priest retreat director from Oklahoma to share reflections on the virtues that free us from the seven deadly sins.

            Today we hear from Jeremiah what the Lord is doing.   He is bringing the people back from exile to Israel once again.   He is not bringing the strongest and most intelligent, the elite of humankind.  This “remnant of Israel” is the group God has chosen to bring the chosen people back to life.

            The people chosen to carry forward the divine plan for humanity are rarely the quick of mind and strong of body.   As happened with Abel and Cain, Jacob and Esau, and even Ephraim and Manasseh, God’s eye and choice fall on the lesser, the younger, the weaker.  As St. Paul would later teach, God chooses the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong.  God chooses the people the world sees as unworthy to be the carriers of prophecy and divine blessing for all.  This is God’s doing.

            From the vantage point of now, the 21st century, it is hard to miss this throng’s similarity to the displaced masses who are today fleeing their homelands and seeking a safe haven where life can thrive.  The people making today’s pilgrimages do not have doctorates or wealth, perhaps not even the strength that established societies need to replace their aging populations.  But in the history of God’s inversions of established values, these are the ones through whom God is promising new life.  Through the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah, God still tells the world, “I will gather them from the ends of the world….I will console and guide them…For I am a father.”  Those who desire to be a part of God’s family should be aware of the gifts as well as the needs that immigrants and refugees bring to our country.   Most of those who come from the South are brothers and sisters who share our Catholic faith and only want to work for the good of their families.  Let us treat them with love and respect.

            The Gospel of Mark introduces us to a variety of characters not seen elsewhere or even mentioned again in the New Testament.  Bartimaeus, the blind man, is one such example.  We have not been told of him in any story prior to this in the Gospel of Mark.  And after this brief episode we will never hear of him again.  It’s as though the reader or the early community would have known Bartimaeus as the blind man who sat begging on the road to Jericho.  He was beside Jesus’ “way,” but not yet on it.  Bartimaeus heard the news that Jesus was near and began to shout and make a scene with a very specific and insistent exclamation:  “Son of David, have pity on me.”

            In Mark’s Gospel, Bartimaeus was the first person to speak of Jesus as a Son of David and his use of that title prepared for the way the crowds would welcome Jesus into Jerusalem with that same title.

            Bartimaeus called out a very specific request.  He begged, “Have pity on me!”  He wasn’t asking for the pity or compassion Jesus showed people like the hungry crowd.  Bartimaeus’ plea for mercy implied that he believed Jesus had the power and the will to change his condition if only he were made aware of his need.

            Bartimaeus literally started as a beggar.  He approached Jesus as someone who had no influence to recommend him.  From that humble position, he beseeched Jesus to give him the help implied by his plea for mercy.  When Jesus asked just what kind of mercy he wanted, Bartimaeus replied, “Master, I want to see.”  In response, Jesus did nothing more than proclaim that his faith had saved him.  With that, Bartimaeus received his sight and began to follow Jesus along the way.  Mark no sooner ends this story than he tells of how Jesus prepared to enter into the city of Jerusalem.  Bartimaeus received the vision that allowed him to join Jesus on the way to at its most critical time.

            When Jesus calls for Bartimaeus to come to him the response is immediate as he throws off his cloak and jumps up and comes to Jesus.  He follows Jesus to Jerusalem.

            St. Francis de Sales wrote “We all have a vocation.  We believe that God has placed us in this life to fill a special need that no one else can accomplish.”

--Are you as persistent in your prayer as Bartimaeus is with his desire to see the Lord?

--What can encourage you to follow Jesus even to Jerusalem?

Sometimes we get off the way and sit by the wayside like Bartimaeus.  Let us pray to stay on the way of the Lord and follow Jesus to Jerusalem.