Message: What Jesus wants for us: Faith, a lived relationship with him in this life which makes possible an eternal relationship with him in the life that last.
I am grateful to Frs. Dick Gallagher and Narciso Valencia who took my place these past three Sundays while I was in Peru. I am back precisely for a basic theme: Stewardship. In a few weeks I will ask you to make a pledge, but I want to put it in this context: God does not so much want something from you; he wants something for you.
Today's Gospel indicates how much God wants something for us. It begins with a man living in Jericho. Beyond Joshua fighting the battle of Jericho, the city probably does not mean much to us. In the Bible, however, Jericho represents the world without God: a place of lively commerce, yes, but also oppressive corruption and social inequality. Remember Jesus' parable about a man who goes from Jerusalem down to Jericho - 853 feet below sea level, a literal and figurative descent.
Bartimaeus lives in that inferno. It surrounds him, he senses it although he cannot see it. Darkness engulfs him. He is blind. Unlike other around him he does have some spiritual sight. He knows his misery and he cries out for mercy. The people try to quiet him. Jesus says, "call him." Like everyone Bartimaeus has a call, a vocation, a purpose.
Now an interesting thing happens. Jesus does not immediately restore the man's sight. No, he initiates a conversation. More than even healing Jesus wants the conversation of prayer: Being in his presence, asking, thanking, questioning, listening.
When he finally heals Bartimaeus, Jesus says, "Your faith has saved you." Faith, remember, is something beyond intellectual belief. Faith is a lived relationship with Jesus.
That's ultimately what Jesus wants for you and me: Faith, a lived relationship with him in this life which makes possible an eternal relationship in the life that last. What that life involves will surprise you. More next week.
For today I ask you to think about the difference between Jericho and Jerusalem. Not the modern cities but what they represent in God's word: disappointed overindulgence vs. longing fulfilled, superficiality vs. authenticity. For you God wants Jerusalem: authenticity and longing fulfilled.
In the words of today's Psalm we will say: "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." Amen.
Plan for this series:
From Archives (30th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):
Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru