YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: Overcoming the forces of discouragement with an enduring faith in a merciful and loving God.
BY: Fr. Clem C. Aladi.
GOSPEL: MK 10:46-52
_…And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”_
The cries of Bartimaeus never went unanswered. The merciful Lord really had pity and restored his sight. Dear child of God I welcome you with Hope on this 30th Sunday and I pray God in this mass to hear your cries for help and restore that which is deficient in your life.
The readings of today demonstrate that our God is a merciful and loving God who is always touched by the cries of His people and is ready to restore their hope. All we need is to overcome the forces of discouragement around us and call upon Him with a persistent faith.
The first reading tells us how a forgiving, kind and compassionate God has been healing the spiritual blindness of His Chosen People by subjecting them to captivity in Babylon and liberating them and bringing them back to their homeland. The Jerusalem journey of Jesus in the company of the lame and the blind connects the first reading to today’s gospel. The healing of the blind Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel is also seen as the fulfilment of the joyful prophecy of Jeremiah about the return of the exiled Jews from Babylon to their homeland.
God remains the same yesterday, today and forever. His will is immutable. His love is eternal. His mercy overflows. God has never at any point in time in history stopped showing His love and compassion. His very being is love. I don’t know what idea of God you may have but am stressing this indisputable fact that God is so kind to us His children, we are the ones placing barriers in His way to reaching us because He is ever close to us.
Have you ever become discouraged, felt like giving up on God or even attempted taking your life because you believe your condition is beyond any remedy? Have you been discouraged by family and friends from taking a positive step to overcoming a habit that has kept you spiritually blind? Have you lost the patience and hope to wait on God?
When we look at the story of Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel, we are encouraged and more hopeful again that we have a God who listens and hears our cry. We have to note the following points which are worthy of our reflection today.
Firstly, Bartimaeus was strategically positioned. He stood by the roadside begging and when he learnt Jesus was passing through that route he shouted for help. God will always hear us from wherever and whenever we call upon Him. But I have this conviction and believe that to obtain favours, one needs to make himself available by being positioned strategically to be seen and heard. This is why we are encouraged to pray in the Church, attend masses and pray before the blessed sacrament in adoration and worship and to make our petitions known before God. If Bartimaeus was not strategically positioned by the roadside, I doubt if this discouraging crowd could lead him to Jesus or vice verse. In life, you have to be in certain places and at certain times to receive certain benefits. Spiritually, God can locate you anywhere but must not fail to present yourself before His holy presence in places of divine worship. Praying before the Blessed Sacrament for instance, evokes a certain feeling of being heard and seen by God, this it is very efficacious in healing, restoring hope and overcoming discouragement.
Secondly, we must overcome the discouraging voices that pull us down in faith. They rebuked Bartimaeus to be silent but he shouted all the more. There are discouraging voices who tell you it is not possible or why waste your time waiting and hoping on God -“putting all your eggs in one basket” . My dear nothing is impossible with God and nothing is impossible for a determined soul. Remember *..”And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us…* Rom 5:5.
There are many forces of discouragement in our world today, like the voice of the crowd rebuking Bartimaeus to silence. It only takes a determined will and resolute faith to achieve our goals in life or obtain favours from God. *If you don’t know what you want or where you are going, others will decide for you.*
Most times we are discouraged because we limit God’s ability to solve our problems, this is spiritual blindness of some sort. St. Paul says in 2 Cor 5:7 *” for we walk by faith and not by sight”* When we lose faith, we are spiritually blind. Sin could also lead us to spiritual blindness. When we fail to see the good in others, we are blind. When we glory in vanity, we are blind. When we judge others and are greedy, we are blind. When we habitually engage in an immoral lifestyle, we are blind. When we think we cannot succeed without doing evil, we are blind. *We have to pray to have a clear vision of Christian values and priorities in our lives and to acknowledge the presence of God dwelling in ourselves and in our neighbours.* A clear spiritual vision enables us to see the goodness in others, to express our appreciation for all that they have been doing for us, and to refrain from criticizing their performance.
Therefore do not be intimidated by the crowd or anyone. ” *For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”*-Rom 8:15. God will never fail to listen to the voice of faith. It is always faith at work in our relationship with God, give up faith then Hope is gone. _The remedy for discouragement is humble, persevering prayer. God has promised us victory and- in the end- eternal life; we must respond to God’s infallible promises with confidence in He alone Who can (and ardently wills to) give us the strength to persevere_.PJ Michel
Do not forget these words of Christ in a hurry… *”for I am always with you until the end of time.” Matt 28:20*
Thirdly, Jesus had Pity for Bartimaeus, came to Him because his faith overcame the discouraging voice of the crowd. It wasn’t his voice but his persistent faith that attracted Jesus and Jesus endorsed this fact by telling him your faith has healed you. He was asked to make a request even though Jesus already knew what could be the greatest need of this blind man. Jesus asked Bartimaeus to say what he wants from Him because God wants you to make your petitions known to Him. He already knows what you are going through and what you need, but wants you to voice it out as a request. This is why we are encouraged to make mass requests and commend everything to God in prayers. In prayers, our voices are heard. A prayer made in faith will always attract the kindness of God. Have you asked *”…You do not have because you do not ask God* James 4:2. Do not claim God knows, yes He knows but you have to ask.
Finally, when Bartimaeus received his sight he followed Jesus on His way. Many would have gone off to celebrate with family and friends and throw parties. While I do not condemn these, we have to be mindful of this very fact *that greater devotion and closeness to God should be the fruit and response for every good thing we receive from God*. We often fall back to sin, when our prayers are answered, but be a careful child of God because the worst things could happen when you abuse privileges and blessings from God. Miracles are God’s expressions of His love to draw us closer to Him.
I can not conclude this reflection without a word from the second reading which rightly expresses the nature of the priesthood of Christ. The Priest is a mediator between God and man. He was chosen from among men by God and did not take the honour upon himself. He was not chosen because he is the most learned, mature, outspoken, handsome, perfect etc. God had no criteria for choosing him, he is simply a product of grace. He is beset by weakness as his brothers and sisters and that is why in his role as a mediator, he should be patient with his ignorant and erring brothers and sisters and offer prayers and sacrifices for his sins and theirs. We continue to pray for our priests that in their weaknesses they may find strength in God who has called them to serve. Let’s stop talking about abuses in the church, the more we keep emphasising these negativities the more we fail to appreciate or overlook the efforts of a countless number of priests who sacrifice daily for the salvation of souls and all the spiritual gifts we have received from God through the church. Many Christians are losing hope, many are becoming discouraged. let’s together heal our broken world again and restore the dignity of the Catholic Priesthood. The church remains the Sacrament of salvation of all men and women. We have all sinned and fallen short of the of the glory of God. Let us turn to God in prayer and positive action and ask Him to renew the face of His church on earth. A time of crises is always a time of new self-awareness. We may have failed God, but has not given up on us, so we keep struggling in faith to render Him service befitting our calling as Priests.
In this mass, we pray that God will strengthen our faith to overcome any form of discouragement in life and in our spiritual struggle. We pray too that God will hear our prayers, restore our hope in Him and sanctify his priests.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
Fr. Clem C. Aladi.