Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at 5:34 PM
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Homily, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, World Mission Sunday

30th Sunday of the Year B and World Mission Sunday

Jer. 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

Dear friends, whereas last Sunday the readings focused on the trials and sufferings of our Lord and the service to which we are all called, today’s readings celebrate the joy that our faith in God brings. In the first reading, Jeremiah tells us how the Israelites “departed in tears” (Jer 31:9), but the Lord brought them back in joy after the Babylonian exile. God would bring them back to the land they could call their own. In the psalm, ‘although they go forth weeping’ but ‘they come back rejoicing’ (Psalm 126:6). And in the Gospel, we see how blind Bartimaeus went to the roadside seeking pity but left sighted with Jesus.

Two weeks ago, we heard a rich man ask Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus told him that he must sell all he has and follow him. He declined and walked away sad. Today, we hear a blind man ask Jesus to give him the ability to see. A beggar, who has already thrown away his only possession, a cloak, which would have held all the coins he collected. Jesus tells him to go on his way, but instead he follows Jesus on the Way. Both men have faith in God, and they look to Jesus for help, but the prosperous man is unwilling to leave what he already has. His attachments weigh him down. The poor man immediately sacrifices the little he has to follow Jesus.

An interesting contrast can be made with last Sunday’s Gospel as well. Jesus asks virtually the same question to Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) that he asked James and John (sons of Zebedee) a few verses before: “What do you wish or what want me to do for you?’ (Mark 10:36,51). The apostles, not seeing what they were asking for, ask for glory, something Jesus is neither able nor willing to give; the blind man, seeing who Jesus truly is, asks to be made whole, exactly what Jesus can and will give. Bartimaeus’s physical sight was impaired, but his spiritual sight was clear. Even before Jesus cured him, he threw away his cloak, something essential for his occupation.  

Bartimaeus wasted no time complaining. He didn’t reproach God for allowing his blindness, and all the suffering and misery it caused. He didn’t demand explanations from God, neither did he pour out his energy blaming God for allowing him to be a victim to the brokenness of this fallen world.  How much time do we waste complaining? How much energy do we spend trying to figure out certain things we ought to simply accept? Yet, on the other hand, Bartimaeus didn’t pretend that everything was okay; he didn’t ignore his suffering and need. He was poignantly aware of his limitations. And as a result, as soon as he heard that Jesus was passing by, he started crying out to get his attention, and he cried out even more loudly when the famous rabbi’s entourage tried to shush him. Blind Bartimaeus avoided two unhealthy attitudes that we can often fall into, attitudes that drain precious energy from our spirit: excessive self-pity and excessive self-reliance.

Which is your typical pitfall and what does Bartimaeus have to say to you? As  we continue to pray to God and plead with him to take our troubles and worries away, …we also remember to pray for the very thing he granted the blind man. When we do that, we’ll let God open our eyes and maybe start seeing the challenges and crosses of this life in a much different light --- not as conclusions to our stories, but rather paragraphs and chapters in a story that isn’t finished.

It is World Mission Sunday, a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.  Every year the needs of the Catholic Church in the Missions grow.  New dioceses are formed, as new seminaries are opened because of the growing number of those hearing Christ’s call to follow Him as priests and religious. The areas devastated by war or natural disasters are rebuilt, and as other places are opening to hear the message of Christ and His Church. Personally, I am beneficially of funds from the Society of Propagation of Faith as my last seven years of priestly formation were funded by the subsidy from such collection. I do not envisage my beloved parents would have managed to support me with the other nine siblings who also needed education.

In his message for this year’s Mission Sunday, Pope Francis tells us that: ‘Once we experience the power of God’s love, we cannot help but proclaim and share what we have seen and heard. Jesus’ relationship with his disciples and his humanity shows us the extent to which God loves our humanity and makes his own our joys and sufferings, our hopes, and our concerns’. Through our self-giving and speaking about our faith, may the “Good News” of Jesus continue to be proclaimed to all peoples!




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