23rd/24th October 2021

posted 25 Oct 2021, 10:29 by Parish Office

Homily for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (23 & 24/10/21)

Today we celebrate World Mission Sunday, and an important part of any mission, whether at home or abroad, is the call to conversion. Sometimes, mission works indirectly rather than directly. Rather than someone hearing the gospel message and choosing to follow it, it may be that they are initially looking for something else. Maybe they go to a local Catholic hospital, run by a religious order, for healing for an eye condition. But in the process of being healed, they come into contact with the Gospel and into contact with Christ.

Let’s have a look at Bartimaeus.

Clearly, Bartimaeus must have heard about Jesus before and knew what He was able to do, so he calls out “Master, let me see again”. It's also the cry of someone who has abandoned the Lord but wants to return to Him. “I've made a mess of my life and I acknowledge that. I'm nothing without You, Lord. Please, restore me to You; forgive me my sins; help me to see the world as you see it. Restore to me the vision of faith. I've seen the empty promises of the devil for what they were – lies, complete and utter lies. I wish I had listened to you in the first place, and then none of this would have happened. But please Lord, restore me back to you, and I will make amends for my wrongful behaviour, and never abandon you again.”

Bartimaeus was a blind beggar. His situation reminds us of the state our sins reduce us to: a pitiful state, blind to the spiritual realities around us. He calls for help, but how do those around him respond? We read, “And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet”. It's just like the response of the world around us today, when someone declares “I'm going to change my life and follow Christ”. The world doesn't want to be reminded that it is living an illusion, and that it needs Christ to save it and lead it into all truth. When it hears that someone wants to convert to Christ, its response is to scold, almost like the chief priests and elders who said to Christ, “What authority have you for acting like this?” (Matt 21:23) People today can see someone living differently as an implicit criticism of what they are doing. Maybe they feel bad about themselves. So they respond by persecuting the person who wants to turn to Christ. We can also see in this the persecution of the devil, who realises that a soul is about to escape from his grasp. He hears the repentant sinner saying those words, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me”, and he realises that his plan has been thwarted, the game is up, and the lies won't

wash any more.

“Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” ” Today Jesus asks the Church, His followers, to bring sinners to Him, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation.

“ “Courage,” they said “get up; he is calling you.” ” In these words we can hear the Church, each one of us, hopefully, calling sinners to take courage and go to the priest. Why to the priest? Because through ordination, a priest is “another Christ”, which means that Christ works through him, and in a sense people see Christ in a priest in a way that they don’t through anybody else. Of course, one way in which this particularly applies is the sacrament of reconciliation, also known as confession.

So Bartimaeus threw off his cloak. In this action we can see the sinner wanting to leave behind his or her old way of life.

Then, in the dialogue with Jesus, we have a representation of the conversation with the priest in confession.

Lastly, we hear, “Go; your faith has saved you”. It is faith in the power of Christ to forgive through the sacrament that leads people there and enables them to receive forgiveness.

“And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road” - Going to confession can actually strengthen our faith. This is because, as a general rule, problems of faith and problems of morals go together. Allow sin to build up, and God's grace is blocked and faith weakens. Heal the moral problem, and faith can grow.

“and he followed him along the road.” Once we are restored to full communion with Christ and strengthened by Him through the forgiveness of our sins, we can then joyfully follow Him in a new way of life.

So we see in this Gospel a pattern that we may have to repeat many times in our lives, and hopefully also bring others to experience as well. Perhaps we can pray that many more people may come to experience Christ's loving forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation, both abroad and here in this parish.