HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY YEAR B
THEME: CALL UPON THE LORD AND YOU SHALL BE SAVED!
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
(JEREMIAH 31:7-9; HEBREWS 5:1-6: MARK 10:46-52)
The readings of this Sunday urge us to live our own time of adversity with courage, faith, and hope. It opens us to the God who is not aloof and indifferent but intimately involved with our daily struggles. Our first reading this Sunday is a radical articulation of hope, as the basis for liberation and survival. In the face of disaster, the prophet declares that the Lord is a father to Israel, and Israel his cherished first-born son! They will have to wait for the fulfilment, but the promise remains a beacon of hope.
Jericho is about three hours’ walk from Jerusalem. It is the last village on the way, and the excitement of the great revelation of Jesus at the Passion is already upon them. The cured beggar is the only person in Mark to call Jesus ‘Son of David’, drawing attention to Jesus’ messianic ancestry, ready for his messianic entry into Jerusalem. In the gospel of Mark Jesus says ‘Your faith has cured you’ only twice. The first time was to the woman with a haemorrhage, who had shown her faith with great courage by daring to touch Jesus’ garment in the crowd. Now Bartimaeus shows the same stubborn courage in carrying on shouting despite the attempts to silence him. So, they both show with courage that they really do put their trust in Jesus and are confident that he will help. If our faith is to save us, it needs to be real and courageous. Lukewarm, tentative faith is not enough.
We see the blind and poor Bartimaeus yearning for healing and liberation. He will not let this opportunity pass him by. So, like a drowning man, he cried out for help: “Jesus, Son of David have pity on me!” He will not be silenced or deterred from getting Jesus’ attention. There are times in everyone’s life when everything goes wrong and irremediable disaster strikes. In those dark moments we know that the same promise of hope holds for us. In the Spirit we can still cry out ‘Abba, Father’. So, neither the crowd, nor pride should stop us from reaching Christ. We notice how quickly the crowd’s reaction changes when Jesus calls for Bartimaeus. Those who sought to quiet him now encourage him.
The blind Bartimaeus represents our collective human situation that is constantly yearning for healing and liberation from weaknesses, spiritual poverty, and sin. Our blindness might not necessarily be the physical loss of vision. The good news today is that Christ our high priest is always ready to hear, heal and liberate us from whatever is limiting us from maximizing our potentials in life. He wants us to see again. To see again, is to have a living faith in Christ, our high priest who mediates for us before the Father. However, it is interesting to note that, Bartimaeus did not believe because he was cured. Rather, he was cured because he believed, and humbly cried out for help. So, seeing his faith, Christ said to him: “Your faith has cured you.”
It is an irony that while a blind man did not have trouble recognizing Jesus as the Son of David, (the promised Messiah), many of those who could see clearly with both eyes were having trouble believing that this “son of a carpenter” was really the Son of God. How many of us Catholics can “see” Jesus present, soul, and divinity, in the Holy Eucharist? Bartimaeus was blind but deep inside him, he could see God present in the person of Jesus. This inner sight eventually brought about his physical sight.
Finally, my brothers and sisters, the story of Bartimaeus leaves us with two fundamental questions of faith: Do You Recognize the Presence of Jesus? Do you Allow Anyone Discourage You from calling on him? If we sincerely call on Christ our high priest in faith, He will surely hear us: “For, whoever calls on the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (Rom 10, 13). So, today filled with hope, let us sing with the psalmist: “What marvels the Lord has worked for us! Indeed, we were glad.”
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara