Developing An Unshakable Faith!

Justine John Dyikuk

Justine John Dyikuk

Shikrot Mpwi – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk

30th Sunday of the Year, B – October 24, 2021/World Mission Sunday.

Readings: Jer. 31:7-9; Ps 125:1-6; Hebrews 5:1-6 & Gospel – Mark 10:46-52.

Theme: Developing An Unshakable Faith!

Sunday Synopsis

In the first reading, the Prophet Jeremiah presents us with the message of hope. The second reading reveals Jesus as the heavenly High Priest who pleads our course. The Gospel discloses the encounter between Jesus and Bartimaeus in which the blind beggar was healed. On World Mission Sunday, following the invitation of the Holy Father Pope Francis, we are charged to support missionary endeavours in imitation of Christ whose extreme generosity got Bartimaeus healed.

Introduction

Friends in Christ, today the Church gives us another opportunity to reflect on faith. Our reflection titled “Developing An Faith that Saves” is premised on the message of restoration and total recovery in the first reading, the assurance of a high priest who empathizes with us in the second reading and the encounter between Jesus and Bartimaeus the blind beggar in the gospel. To do justice to our homiletic theme, we shall take a look at the background and summary of the readings in the light of pastoral lessons.

Background & Summary of the Readings

In the first reading (Jer. 31:7-9), the Prophet Jeremiah presents us with the message of hope. He assures that notwithstanding the violence and trauma Judah suffered as a result of the destruction of Jerusalem and exile to Babylon, there is hope. His radical articulation of hope becomes a roadmap for survival. In a classical fashion, the Prophet highlights a glorious homecoming, stunning restoration and renewed relationships for the people. Although the “remnant of Israel” namely its survivors experienced suffering and marginality, the Prophet maintains that God would redeem his people from their troubles.

The second reading (Heb. 5:1-6) reveals Jesus as the heavenly High Priest who pleads our course. The first part of the text gives the definition of who a priest is and the criteria for being a priest while the second part shows how Christ meets these criteria. It reveals that he offers sacrifices for his sins and the sins of the community especially on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – the annual ritual where the High Priest atones for the sins of the people (Lev. 16). The reading presents Jesus as that sinless sympathetic and empathetic High Priest who shows solidarity with sinners. This is why a priest ought to identify with sinners because he himself is subject to weakness.

The reading also connects Jesus’ Priesthood to that of Melchizedek. While the regular Jewish priests were from the tribe of Levi, Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah. To strike a balance, it was necessary for the personage Melchizedek to provide an alternative priesthood which will be basis for the Messiah to be identified as a High Priest, notwithstanding his Non-Levitical ancestry – this means that Christ is a priest “forever,” thus revealing Jesus’ immortal post-resurrection status which provides a contrast with the mortality of the Levitical Priests.

The Gospel reading (Mark 10:46-52) discloses the encounter between Jesus and Bartimaeus in which the blind beggar was healed. It reveals how the beggar defied the crowd to beg Jesus for healing. The reading stated that he addressed Christ as, “Son of David,” and pleaded “have pity on me.” It notes how Jesus ordered the same crowd who tried to shut him up to call him. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, he said, he sought for the restoration of his sight. Jesus then commanded and his sight was restored. We are told that he decided to follow Jesus along the road. In Bartimaeus we find the finest expression of faith. That blind Bartimaeus looked forward to a day he would be healed meant that he was always hopeful.

Pastoral Lessons

1. Trust God: Just as our first reading spoke about the glorious homecoming, stunning restoration and renewed relationships for the people of Israel, God is able to restore the “years eaten by locust” in our lives if we trust him enough.

2. Be Empathetic: The message of the second reading which presents Jesus as a sinless sympathetic and empathetic High Priest who shows solidarity with sinners calls us to learn from our Lord and Master by identifying with sinners and the vulnerable so as bring them the love of Christ the wounded healer who came not to be served to but serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Cf. Mt. 20:28).

3. Have an Unshakable Faith: In Bartimaeus, we find the finest expression of faith. The blind man’s faith was active because although he was physically blind, he saw by faith. Little wonder the scripture says, we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Those of us who are suffering from one terminal ailment or the other are urged to look up in faith to Jesus who is able to do much more than we can ask or imagine (Cf. Eph. 3:20).

4. Be Obedient: By throwing off his cloak and jumping up to meet Jesus in obedience, the blind beggar was not only doubly sure that he would regain his sight but quite certain of the scripture which says, “obedience is better than sacrifice”(1 Samuel 15:22).We too are challenged to obey Jesus’ summon by doing the will of God.

5. Be Persistent in Prayer: The persistence of Bartimaeus added substance to his bold expression of faith. This is because he never gave naysayers the chance to rob him of the golden opportunity to get his sight back. We are challenged to always remember that our endurance will win us our lives.

Summary Lines

1. In the first reading, the Prophet Jeremiah presents us with the message of hope.

2. The second reading reveals Jesus as the heavenly High Priest who pleads our course.

3. The Gospel discloses the encounter between Jesus and Bartimaeus in which the blind beggar was healed.

4. In Bartimaeus we find the finest expression of faith.

5. That blind Bartimaeus looked forward to a day he would be healed meant that he was always hopeful.

Conclusion

We are urged to pay attention to other salient points about the blind man in the gospel. By addressing Jesus as the “Son of David,” he introduced the title of Royalty or Kingship which would later be expressed during his entry into Jerusalem (Cf. Mk 11:1-10), trial (Cf. Mk 15:1-15) and death (Cf. Mk 15:16-32). That the blind Bartimaeus looked forward to a day he would be healed meant that he had deep faith. He also did not allow his condition to “condition him.” Rather, he looked beyond his immediate predicament and found the miracle he wanted.

In conclusion, to demonstrate his love for Jesus, after he regained his sight, the blind man did not go away. This shows that his love was profound. Unlike the 9 lepers who did not return to give thanks (Cf. Lk. 17:11-19), Bartimaeus kept following Jesus to offer his life as a form of thanksgiving to God for a miracle received. On World Mission Sunday, following the invitation of the Holy Father Pope Francis, we are charged to support missionary endeavours in imitation of Christ whose extreme generosity got Bartimaeus healed. May God continue to grant us “a lively faith that is animated by charity” through Christ our Lord. Amen!

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