Bottom line: Faith makes love possible and love deepens faith.
Before addressing today's Gospel, I would like to say a word about the reading from Hebrews. It speaks of the priest's relationship to his people. Recognizing his own weakness, a priest must deal lovingly with his people.
Regarding my relationship to you, I want to say something personal. You know that I am not as extroverted or outgoing as I would like to be. And I sometimes have a hard time keeping names in my mind, but I do want you to know that, as your priest, I care about you. I feel like Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. Out of the blue, her husband Tevye asks, "Do you love me?" First she tries to brush him off, then she lists all things she does which show her love. To which Tevye responds,
Then you love me!
Golde replies: I suppose I do
Tevye: And I suppose I love you, too
We are facing great challenges as a Church and as a parish. It's hard to know what all this means, but I want you to know that, no matter what, I do love you. And I do suppose, I do suppose, that you love me too. I have been living in Monroe for about three and a half years – and look forward to more years together. I am a man beset by weakness, but each day, with God's help, I try to respond to parishioners' needs. I do love you and I suppose that you do love me too.
This is important. In past weeks we have talked about different issues as we approach election day. I have tried to do my best to communicate (mainly in the bulletin, but also in homilies) the concerns of our bishops on various issues. I am not doing this as some kind of political operative trying to influence votes. Far from it. I am your priest, your spiritual father and my concern is for your salvation. As our bishops have written, how we form our consciences on basic issues - human life, the meaning of marriage, care for poor, world peace and so on - affects a person's salvation. I may not always say things well, but the bottom line is this: I love you. I want the best for you in this life and in eternal life. I love you - and I suppose you love me too. (smile)
Love - as we have seen in recent weeks - depends on faith. Without faith (or trust) we cannot have a relationship with God or even with each other. As weak human beings we have to work hard to gain trust - and when we fall down, we ask for forgiveness and healing.
We see a beautiful example of faith in today's Gospel. A blind man named Bartimaeus calls out, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."
His prayer leads to a deeper conversation: "What do you want me to do for you?"
It might seem obvious, but think about. The man could have said, "Can you give me some food, maybe a few coins?" He says, however, "Master, I want to see."
That should be our prayer. I want to see Jesus. I want to see my brother. Because Bartimaeus makes that prayer Jesus says to him, "Your faith has saved you."
We are saved faith. Faith saves us because it opens a relationship to Jesus. Faith means daily prayer, receiving the Sacraments and living Jesus' teaching.
Faith, ultimately, is a gift. We are human; Jesus is God.
Let's return now to the reading from Hebrews: It says that a priest offers sacrifices. What do we have to offer? St. Faustina expressed it wonderfully in the Divine Mercy Prayer: "Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world."
Could I offer anything better? I may have a few talents and even some good works, but those look pale next to what I lift up on the altar: The Host, which is Jesus' Body and the chalice, His Precious Blood.
I do love you; you are my family. But my love is only a shadow of the One who asks you today, "What do you want me to do do for you?" May we all increase our trust in Him and in each other. Faith makes love possible and love deepens faith. We want to hear those beautiful words: "Your faith has saved you." Amen.
From Archives (Homilies for 30th Sunday, Year B):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
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