30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Go your way; your faith has saved you." (Mk 10:46-52)
"Let us pray. Holy God, the Mother of Earth, I seek forgiveness today for deeming that I know who needs mercy. Today, I realize my fickle actions comparable to the crowd in Mark's gospel behaving like a "Blessing Blocker," not listening. I, too, amid this crowd, heard Bartimaeus yelling, "Son of David, have mercy on me." And then when Jesus said, "Bring him to me," I pretended as if nothing happened. Lord God, forgive me for closing my ears to the cry of the poor. You provide mercy every morning for the world, both for the wicked and righteous! Help me Lord to be a listening member in my parish. Amen."
Wow, I needed that prayer because my eyes have witnessed this ugly behavior before in myself and perhaps in others in the Church. Honestly, the crowd is reminiscent of my recent meditation on Blessing Blocker dated Sept. 24, 2021. In that article, we reflected on the crowd trying to block the children from seeing Jesus. Jesus told them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mk. 10:14). And here we are again with a crowd admonishing Bartimaeus, saying Be Silent, acting like a Blessing Blocker. Are we a church that listens to those living on the roadside?
Concentrate on this one disconcerting aspect with me. Within the frenzy of this crowd, no one listened to Bartimaeus, who heard Jesus walking along with the crowd's uproar. Bartimaeus's prophetic testimony, "Son of David, have mercy on me," was ignored. The group was excited about walking with the Holy One, yet the only reaction to Bartimaeus was a deaf ear to his cry. They told him to be Be Silent.
Nevertheless, after two shouts by Bartimaeus, not one person said, "Listen to what this man is saying." This crowd was not illiterate; I am sure some heard the prophetic title, Son of David. Jesus did! Here one must ponder what caused this crowd to ignore the cry of Bartimaeus on the roadside. They knew that Jesus was walking with them. How is it that we can know Jesus and his mercy and ignore others' cries for mercy? Are we afraid that Jesus' compassion will disappear? The prophetic Jeremiah said, "The LORD's acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning" (Lam. 3:22-23).
Today, you and I must ask, "What do we want Jesus to do for us?" Remember, Jesus asked Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said he wanted to see. Perhaps we need to ask Jesus to help our Church listen to the voices in the pews to have more fire in the pulpit.
The crowd's inability to listen to the outcasts' faith-filled words prevented them from seeing who Jesus was. Everyone in the group had ears to hear and the gift of faith. We need to listen to each other. The blind man used the gift of listening to cry out, Son of David. Unfortunately, the crowd refused or was unable to receive Bartimaeus' gift of faith.
Pope Francis is calling the Universal Church to listen to each other more than ever. We must not be like the crowd in our gospel today. In this period of our Church history, we must listen to people on the roadside: unchurched, marginalized, the poor of the poorest, church hurt folks, and anyone else who needs the Joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis clarified the purpose of the Synod that started this year and will end in 2023, saying that this "process [is] not about ‘gathering opinions,’ but ‘listening to the Holy Spirit’ "Our story would be much different today if the crowd listened to the Holy Spirit coming from Bartimaeus's lips as he accurately identified Jesus as the Son of David. I am praying for a listening Church.
"Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 3:6).
Author: Evangelist Michael P. Howard, MACS