Tuesday, October 20, 2009

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time - October 25, 2009

Lectionary #149

Jeremiah 31: 7-9
Hebrews 5: 1-6
Mark 10: 46-52

Can anyone of us who have our eyesight, imagine what it must be like to be blind? To be living in total darkness? Imagine what it would be like in the time of Jesus; with none of the aids or support systems we have today for the blind. Some would be abandoned by their families, ashamed because they think God is punishing them for some unknown sin. Some of the blind would be like Bartimaeus, sitting on the roadside, hearing the sounds of the world going by them, calling out for some alms. They hope to hear the clatter of coins; they hope that no one will rob them of what little treasure they have.

We do not know how long Bartimaeus was blind, how long he had been sitting at that roadside. Whether he was despairing over how his life was turning out. Then one day he hears this commotion, he learns that Jesus of Nazareth, the famous healer and preacher is coming. He suddenly feels a spark of hope, and he grabs for it. He cries out, somehow inspired to call Jesus, “son of David.” Bartimaeus is brought before Jesus; he is asked what he wants Jesus to do for him. Now he has only heard stories about this Jesus; and there have so many so-called healers in Judea. But deep in his heart, he believes in this man from Nazareth, so he asks that he might see. It is that faith that saves him, he receives his sight and his world is forever changed. Now, his world is open to new opportunities, he can take any road now. He chooses to follow Jesus, who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

We all suffer from some type of blindness, the blindness of prejudice, greed, hate, depression, and self-doubt. It is a blindness that keeps us from seeing the beauty of God’s creation; keeps us from seeing others as our brothers and sisters in Christ; keeps us from seeing how much the Father loves us. We all need healing; even though that healing may change us, change how we perceive the world and ourselves. And change can be scary; it can draw us out of our comfort zone. What we need then is the gift of faith. It is faith that causes us to get up and draw near to Jesus. It is faith give us that little spark of hope. It is faith that makes us ask Jesus to say, “Master, I want to see.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 18, 2009

Lectionary #146

Isaiah 53: 10-11
Hebrews 4: 14-16
Mark 10: 35-45

One could say that James and John are the most clueless of Jesus’ disciples. And they are definitely slow learners. We have seen in the earlier readings from the Gospel of Mark, what it means to be a disciple of Jesus; what are the challenges and the sacrifices that are required. But James and John do not seem to get it, they are still looking to be above the others; they want to be Jesus’ “number one” guys. Jesus is blunt with them; he lets them know what will be required of them, what it will cost them to be his followers. James and John are still clueless; they should have remembered what Isaiah had written about the Messiah, how he was going to suffer, so that others may be saved. Jesus reminds them and the other Apostles that they are not to be like the rest of society, where everyone is continuously seeking power and prestige. No, they are to be servants to all people; that if one wanted to be the greatest of all, they would have to be “the slave of all.”

In our society today, we are constantly being bombarded with images and stories of people who are seeking fame, power, and wealth; and those who have it, are flaunting it. Our televisions are constantly showing us the lives of the rich and famous, the checkout counters of our stores are almost buried with magazines, papers, “scandal sheets,’ revealing every aspect of these “bright, young things” lives. And truth be told, all of us have a desire to be “top dog” in our own little part of the world, to have at least fifteen minutes of fame.

And there is Jesus telling us: “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you.” We are all called to be servants, to one another, and to the rest of the world. This will require us to make sacrifices, let go our egos, give of our talents, time and treasure. We are inspired by the example of Jesus Christ; receive strength from his Body and Blood, so that we can give our lives for others.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 4, 2009

Lectionary #140

Genesis 2: 18-24
Hebrews 2: 9-11
Mark 10: 2-16

America has the reputation of being the most litigious country in the world. It seems that we need a contract, or some written document that covers every aspect of life. This is especially true of marriage, where we see pre-nuptial agreements becoming a regular practice. We see divorce attorneys becoming almost a numerous as marriage counselors. We are becoming a society where the idea of a permanent commitment to a relationship seems anachronistic.

But historically, that is how marriage has developed over the centuries. To many societies, both ancient and modern, marriage was seen as a contract, at first between the man and woman, then between a man and the woman’s family. It involved dowries, money, and land. Society would soon consider the woman as the man’s property. But when we read today’s passages from Genesis and the Gospel of Mark, we know that the marriage of a man and a woman is something more than just a contractual relationship, it something wondrous, awesome and holy.

I know it may not seem that way on days when we are arguing with our spouse over money, kids, and work. But despite that, the sacramental reality still exists, man and woman are one flesh, each unique, but both one. Both united to one another by God’s grace, and it is in opening oneself to that grace that can enable us to bear the troubles of life and stay united as one flesh.