Sunday, October 25, 2015

Your Faith has Saved You: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

     Since the early years of the Church today’s gospel has been used to encourage and teach Christians about the power of perseverance in prayer. There is something unique about the way Bartimaeus, the blind man in our story, pleads for the Lord’s attention with complete disregard of of the people trying to silence him. Of course a blind man forced to beg charity from others to stay alive, has very little to lose; so he can ignore those who are trying to stop him.  When it comes to praying, Bartimaeus is always a good example to follow because he shows that perseverance always gets God’s attention.
    Now as it often happens with the stories about the Lord, if we look deeper we will find that there is much more going on that just the obvious message. In addition to prayer, this story serves as a guide to what to do, what the Lord expects from us and how he will reward us, when we are confronted with a situation which is becoming more and more common in our culture. I’m speaking about those cases in which Christians are required, even forced to make public declarations of their faith.
   From  Christians murdered for their faith, to public school coaches been disciplined for praying after games, to the removal of crosses and Christian symbols from public spaces, more and more it seems, every time the Christian faith is expressed in public there are always those who are ready and willing to silence us, to use the words of the Gospel they do not waste the chance to “rebuke us and try to make us silent”.

    If we think about it, Bartimaeus plea to The Lord was a declaration of faith. He believes, he has faith that Jesus mercy is the only thing which can help him, and Jesus proves this point when he tells him not "be healed" but “Your faith has saved you”. He pleads and screams, and those around him who only see a blind, dirty beggar discourage him and try to stop him.
    When Jesus finally notices him and calls him we are told that he “threw away his cloak”. Why would the writer point to this action? Because as a first century beggar this cloak, most likely, was Bartimeus most valued and only possession. By throwing it away he shows that for him there was nothing more important that to get Jesus attention, to express his faith in in the power of Jesus.
    But to me the most telling part is what Jesus says to him “What do you want me to do for you?” Here the Lord shows the willingness he has to reward those who call to him in faith and are willing to lose everything they have rather than allowing themselves to be silenced when declaring of their personal faith in Jesus.
    It is very troubling but most likely, today in 21 century America, the chances of having someone, even our own government try to stop us from expressing our faith in public is very high. Let us us pray that the beggar Bartimaeus is an example and a source encouragement for us and let us ask the Lord, like Bartimaeus did, for the light of his Mercy so that we are willing to sacrifice everything we have rather than deny our faith in Him. God bless you all.

NOTE: Today's homily was purposely shorter than normal because the yearly Financial  Report was scheduled for after Communion.