Detailed homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: RECOGNIZING JESUS AS THE MESSIAH
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
R1 – Jer 31:7-9
R2 – Heb 5:1-6
GOSPEL – Mk 10:46- 52
Helen Keller, an American educator who overcame the challenges and adversities of being blind and deaf to become one of the 20th century’s leading humanitarians and influential personalities; so brave and inspiring to many in blindness, once wrote a magazine article entitled: “Three Days To See.” In that article she outlined what things she would like to see if she were granted just three days of sight. It was a powerful, thought-provoking article.
On the first day, she said, she wanted to see friends. Day two she would spend seeing nature. The third day she would spend in her home city of New York, watching the busy city and the workday of the present. She concluded it with these words: “I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you were to be stricken blind.”
Beloved in Christ, from the above introit story, we understand the plights and predicaments of the blind as:
(a) One who feels lonely and in need of true friendship because of lack of trust (we understand this from the proverbial blind man who couldn’t trust his kinsmen, even when they divided the cow into two, gave him one and shared only one among themselves. He still insists, “who knows the quantity they all dolled him with, if I could get this huge share?”
(b) One who has no contact with the beauty of nature that radiates joy, because a thing of beauty is a joy forever (So, in his/her feelings of loneliness, lacks joy and trust).
(c) One who is cut off from reality.
Imagine Helen Keller, one of the world’s acclaimed blinds educators, who changed the face of the 20th Century, showing signs of unfulfillments. Indicating that blindness goes with loneliness, lack of trust, fulfillments, true friendship and joy.
However, Jesus in the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy, shows us that in our own experiences of loneliness, he is the truest friend who can never desolate us like he did to Lazarus (Jn 11:41-43); in our experiences of sadness, he restores our joy (Her 31:113); and in our own experiences of insufficiencies and unfulfillments, he is our source of abundance and Fulfilments, who supplies all our needs according to his riches in glory (Phil 4:119)
In the Gospel reading, we experience Jesus’ show of merciful and compassionate healing to the blind Bartimaeus, who cried, “Jesus son of David, have mercy on me.” It is pertinent to observe that, this man was physically blind but was spiritually a giant… calling Jesus, “the son of David” indicates that he recognized who Jesus was – the Messiah. We can ask ourselves, “Do we still recognize Jesus and what he can do in our lives as the Messiah?” If we do, why running from one prayer house to another and why trusting in one man of God to another witch doctor in search of sight? This poor blind man of Jericho, from a pegan and heathen city, on hearing that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, Bartimaeus loudly expressed his trusting Faith in the healing power of Jesus by shouting his request, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”When Jesus invited him to come near, Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak (suggesting, perhaps, the baptismal divesting). His meeting with Jesus gave Bartimaeus the gift of spiritual as well as physical sight, and the fomer blind beggar became a disciple of Jesus.
Imagine as bad as blindness is in our own time, despite all the technological enhancements on reading and writing abilities; however, it was very much worse in Jesus’ day. Little wonder, then, that one of the signs of the coming of the Messiah was that the blind should receive their sight! When Jesus announced his Messianic mission, he said: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has sent me to proclaim … recovery of sight to the blind (Is 61:1-4)
The first reading presents us with a message of hope, restoration and renewal as given to the exiled people of Israel, who were weak and helpless in the hand of their oppressors. However, redemption and peace came from God.
While the second reading reveals the role of the priest. Every true priest shares in the priesthood of Christ, the high priest. A priest mediates for the people and helps strengthen their faith. “Every high priest was chosen from among humans…so he can understand and sympathize with those who are ignorant and rejected.”
*THE MESSIANIC IMPLICATIONS OF THE HEALING OF BARTIMAEUS:*
The healing of Bartimaeus has Messianic implications. Jesus commended Bartimaeus because he had correctly understood that Jesus was the Son of David and the expected Messiah. Referring to the coming of the Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped” (Is 35:5; 29:18, 42:7). The Church has taken the persistent prayer of Bartimaeus to heart. The prayer “Kyrie eleison” (Lord, have mercy), appears frequently in the liturgy. Bartimaeus’ prayer has also become the source of “the Jesus Prayer:” “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” In its adapted form, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” it has become a popular Christian prayer. The Church advises us to repeat it frequently, in acknowledgement of our sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy.
The blind Bartimaeus represents our collective human situation that is constantly yearning for healing and liberation from weakness, sickness, poverty and sin. Our blindness might not necessarily be the physical loss of vision. However, it could be whatever that limits and prevents us from reaching, or maximizing our potentials in life.
Like Bartimaeus, we should recognize, even in our blind moments, the presence of Jesus. We can trust in the power of Jesus to give us new visions and to strengthen us in our weakness.
(1) *WE MUST LEARN TO CRY OUT TO JESUS AS BARTIMAEUS DID:*
There is a simple saying that: “If you are not tired of praying, God is not tired of listening to you.”
Like Bartimaeus, we must learn to seek and trust in Jesus as the Messiah who showers us His merciful love and benevolence.
Sometimes, situations get us angry, forlorn and fed up with God in our feelings of abandonment and forsakenness. Let us imitate Bartimaeus, the man of Faith and vision, a man unafraid to recognize his need for healing and to cry out, “I want to see!”
(2) *WE NEED COURAGE TO GROW ABOVE THE CROWD MENTALITY*
Every Christian needs the courage to stand firm in all situations, by believing strongly in one’s belief, being convinced in one’s convictions and being faithful to one’s faith. This is exactly what Bartimaeus courageously manifested in today’s Gospel. The crowd couldn’t stop him. In short, he was unstoppable. The hushing of the crowd couldn’t not swerve his convictions that Jesus was Messiah who will surely heal him. Like Bartimaeus, who refused to be silenced, religious and political leaders should not allow their prophetic and representative voices to be silenced by the ruthless secular leaders of our society.
Finally, there was an incident that happened before the beginning of the Second World War. An atheist took his wife who was closed to giving birth to a Catholic Hospital. In front of the woman was a crucifix hanging on the wall of her room. The man who was an unbeliever said to the nurse: “Take that Christ away. I do not want the eyes of my child who is about to be born to see Christ.” The baby was born that same night and in the morning the atheist father asked the nurse: “How is my son?” “He is fine,” replied the nurse, “but he will never see Christ.” “Such is my wish,” said the father. The nurse remarked: “That is a very wicked wish but it has been answered, the child was born blind.”
Beloved, only the merciful and pitiful eyes of Jesus, the Messiah of the world, can heal us of every spiritual, physical, psychological and mental blindness (Act 4:12).
MAY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OPEN OUR INTELLECT AND EVERY SPIRITUAL FACULTIES IN US, SO AS TO RECOGNIZE THAT ONLY JESUS THE MESSIAH CAN DO WHAT NO MAN CAN DO IN OUR LIVES AND HIM ALONE CAN HEAL ALL OHR INFIRMITIES.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA._