B Cycle – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 21
I will bring them back from their place of desolation. Who are those God is promising to bring back? He tells us they are the blind, the lame, those broken and wounded by the pain inflicted upon them by others, those in tears. He promises to console them, lead them to water, feed them and nurse them into wholeness.
How can we ignore this passage from the Book of Jeremiah, this promise of God made to all generations? God is promising us he will heal the brokenness of our souls, the wounds inflicted on us by the evil and selfish desires of others. Those wounds, that brokenness creates in us a barrier of unworthiness between ourselves and God. We want what he offers but we avoid asking for it or even expecting it because others have made us feel like an outcast. The woman at the well is a good example of how our image of ourselves causes us to avoid others and God.
We become lepers whom others shun because our brokenness is too horrific to them, and they will be judged unclean if they associate with us. How can we go before God when we feel so far from the holiness, we believe we must attain before we follow him? Our image of ourselves has left us isolated and far from God. We do want what he offers but we feel we must earn it. But in our daily life we do not want anyone to see our brokenness, so we hide our sinfulness from others. We deceive them and ourselves by acts of holiness because if they knew the real us, they would not know how to respond.
Bartimaeus is a good example of how badly we want to be whole again. How many people do you think gave him a coin as he begged by the roadside daily? How many went near enough to him to say a kind word to him or offer him a drink? We easily walk by those kinds of people daily as we avoid eye contact, ignore their pleas for some kindness and yes, we judge them as they ask for money. Society has not changed much in two thousand years because we still judge others by a standard of acceptability to receive our attention. We carry that kind of thinking into our relationship with God.
We have learned from experience how revealing how the sins inflicted upon us by others causes others to withdraw from us. They somehow believe in their naivete we were complicit when we were forced to yield their self-serving desires. Bartimaeus is a good example of this for in the mind of the righteous all sickness, blindness, leprosy, and crippling diseases were considered punishment for sinfulness. The questions asked of Jesus by his disciples was whose sin caused the blindness of a man born blind from birth (Jn.9:2) is an example of that belief.
We need to help those wounded by others to see the person God sees when he looks at each of us. Instead of seeing our sin and lack of worth when we think of holiness. We need to see how all sin separates us from God. God inspired Paul, a great sinner, to convey to us “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All sin separates us from God and all sin is deadly because it builds a barrier between ourselves and God. Those who have managed to conquer major sin in their lives feel good about their having done so and they should. But at the same time that belief is dangerous because it can cause them to feel like their reward for not sinning has moved them to the top of the class of the righteous.
No sin is sin in God’s eyes and as the prophet compelled to proclaim all would be restored if only, we return to him. Bartimaeus is an example of how boldly we must seek, cry out for, and not allow anyone whose mindset has determined who is worthy of the healing touch of God and who is not. Bartimaeus would not be silenced by the righteous and he cried out even louder as they did.
There it is this gospel message a simple story of someone deemed unworthy of the attention of Jesus. We need go get over what it takes to be worthy of being in the presence of Jesus. We need to avoid the lies of the devil telling us we are unworthy. We also need to overcome believing the judgment of others concerning our worth to receive the promises of God. Receiving God’s grace has nothing to do with our holiness but instead it has to do with God’s plan for all of us to be restored to wholeness. The concept of self-worth caused by the sins of self and others needs to be viewed from the promise of God because he sees the person he knew before we were formed in our mother’s womb.
If we like Bartimaeus would seek Jesus’s touch, we will see and feel mercy. We would see our glory, we will understand the promise of God to lead us to that place of peace, joy, and fullness of life. A life we are destined to live now in the Kingdom of God on earth. If we like Bartimaeus would believe Jesus listens and responds to our pleas we would be amazed at how much we would become new creations. We would be given new insights into who we are and who we were created to become, and we could not hold back the good news of the gospel.
God has made us a promise and Jesus came to reveal to us the Father. In every story we see how the Father desires to overcome doubt we have had since the sin of Adam. It is time to believe and act on that belief. Lord that we may have sight.