HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Readings: Jer. 31:7-9/Heb. 5:1-6
Gospel: Mk. 10:46-52
How does a person gain the insight necessary to become a disciple of Christ? Sometimes it takes moving from the known into the unknown with the help of God. Each time we move from one level to another we need to first be completely comfortable at where we are before we can move forward. For example, one cannot understand the concept of Prayer until one understands the balance between Ritual and Relationship. If it is not, then their actions are not in prayer, but in wishful thinking. Each step forward must begin with full knowledge of where one is at the moment of decision. For when Ritual and Relationship come together, we are in Prayer. When those in Prayer come together, we enter into Sacrament. And when those in a Sacramental state use their position to welcome others, they become Church. This is the end by which we achieve the grace we need to become that Disciple of Christ. It is the means by which we make that decision that can elude us.
In the Gospel proclaimed today, a blind man was on the side of the road. He was begging for whatever he could so that he could live as much a normal life as he was able. He heard a commotion. It was a sound that he was familiar with. It was a sound that meant a lot of people were around. He heard more than people. He heard a payday.
Then he found out the reason for the noise. This was a crowd that was following Jesus of Nazareth. He had heard of him. This was a man who had explained the Scriptures in a way no one had heard before; and his followers were growing. More importantly, this Jesus had been known to have the power to heal anyone of any ailment that they might have; including blindness.
While he knew he could make a little money, he had wished for something more. He had prayed for a moment like this, and now it was the time. He cried out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” But the crowd shouted him down. Yet he cried out the louder, “Son of David, have pity on me.” The more and more he cried out, the louder and louder the crowd wanted him to be quiet. Finally, his voice reached the ears of Jesus. He stopped in his tracks and called for the man. Now the same crowd that shouted the man down is now picking him up and bringing him to Jesus. It would seem reasonable that Jesus would see that this man was blind. And it would seem reasonable for Jesus to ask for his name, which we knew at the start of the Gospel was Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus. Even though he knew these things, Jesus still asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus told him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus saw his desire to see and told him “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” At that moment, Bartimaeus received his sight. Even though Jesus told him to go his own way, Bartimaeus chose to follow Jesus and went with him. Jesus gave him the chance to do whatever he wanted, but with the grace of Christ, Bartimaeus chose to leave his old life for a new life in Christ.
When we talk about Sacraments, those seven “outward signs, instituted by Christ, to give grace,” we can divide those into three segments, each segment just as important as the other for our salvation in this exile from Paradise. The first segment includes the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. While these three are commonly referred to as the Sacraments on Initiation, I like to look at these three as Sacraments of Welcome. It eliminates the mistake of confusing the word “initiation”-a formal admission or acceptance- with the word “indoctrination”-the teaching of a doctrine with a specific point of view, generally one that promotes a hatred against a person or group. The next group, Reconciliation and Anointing, can be considered the “Sacraments of Renewal” for their ability to bring us closer to God during our times of distress and despair.
The third group of Sacraments-Matrimony and Holy Orders-are referred to by one theologian as the “Sacraments of Maturity.” When we were young, we were guided by one of our elders in doing what was right, including taking part in these Sacraments, especially the ones that are part of the Sacraments of Welcome and Renewal. But it is the Sacraments of Maturity that we choose to take part by choice.
So when we begin to explore the possibilities of entering into either state of life, we first must understand that when we do, we risk leaving a life that we had known for most of our lives. We go about our routines as if this is what our lives were supposed to be doing what we are doing. Over time, we stopped looking for what we desired to be because we had gotten blinded by the things that we had to do in order to live in society. But then there are those moments in our lives that will take us out of our malaise of societal conformity and give us a chance to reach out for that one thing that would place us on the path that we need to take that will bring us closer to happiness. Like Bartimaeus, we are crying to Jesus so that we are able to see that path. And he will show it to us. But like all of Christ’s invitations to be with him, it is still our choice to take it. He does not command; he only offers and asks. We have the choice to say “yes” or “no.” And when we do, that is the first step of starting down the road to paradise. That is the true measure of maturity. That is the true measure of being a Disciple of Christ. That is the true measure of being a Child of God.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU DO THIS WEEK