Friday, October 23, 2009

"What do you want me to do for you?"

1) Farewell Mass and party for Fr. Peter this Sunday! My predecessor, Fr. Peter Giovanoni, will celebrate the 7:30 pm Mass. We'll have pizza and cake in the Parish Hall after Mass. Come join us in saying goodbye to Fr Peter!

2) Blob’s Park
Come for a night of fun at Blob’s Park Bier Garten in Jessup, Maryland, on Fri, October 30. Must be 21 to attend. Cost is $10. Bring additional cash for dinner + drinks. RSVP to Meg Miller by Thurs, Oct 29.

3) All Saints PartySat, Oct 31, 7-10 pm, Newman Center. Best saints’ costumes win $25-$75 gift cards to Outback, Kohl’s, and Under Armour.
This Sunday's Gospel(Mk 10:46-52) is a powerful story for many reasons. It is the story of a blind man, Bartimaeus, who cries out to Jesus for healing. There are so many directions that a homilist can take this; I have struggled all week to pick one! So, I wanted to lay out a few of them here.

Bartimaeus was in the midst of a "sizable crowd". He was calling out for help. Did anyone help him? No. In fact, people "rebuked him". They basically told him to shut up and keep quiet. He cried out "all the more". The only person in that crowd who helped him was the Lord. This was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah from the first reading (Jer 31:7-9): "(The Lord) will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst". Christ treats him with great respect and compassion and calls us to have the same respect and compassion for those who are in need.

This encounter with Christ for Bartimaeus is very much like Confession. He is afflicted with the disease of blindness; his disease (like all the diseases in the Gospel which Jesus cures) represents sin. He takes his disease to Jesus who is the high priest, as the second reading (Heb 5:1-6) reminds us. He specifically asks, not once but twice, for mercy: "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me". He then confesses specifically what he wants from the Lord: "I want to see". He wants his disease to be removed. He wants to leave the darkness and live in light. The Lord delivers him from darkness by removing his blindness and says, "your faith has saved you".

We do the same thing when we go to Confession. We approach the priest with our disease: sin. We want to be freed from the disease. We want to be freed from sin. We confess in specific ways about our sin and ask the priest to take us out of the darkness of sin. We ask him to have mercy on us in specific ways. Like Christ (and in the person of Christ), he has mercy on us and absolves the sins we have confessed. He delivers us from spiritual darkness and brings us into the light (of Christ's Grace). We leave the confessional in very similar ways to Bartimaeus leaving his encounter with Christ: we are free!

Bartimaeus is told by the people, "Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you". It takes courage to go before the Lord. It takes courage to go to Confession. It takes courage to follow the Lord, especially in the midst of a big crowd of people. It takes courage to live a moral life. It takes courage to pursue and live out a vocation. It takes courage to trust in God. It takes courage to be a man or woman of faith. Take courage, GW students, as disciples of Christ!

Much of my attention on this Gospel has been about Bartimaeus as a man of prayer. A key point in this story is that he seeks out Jesus. The first step in prayer is seeking out the Lord. It is especially difficult for Bartimaeus to pray because he is told to stop praying by the huge crowd! How many people tell us in different ways not to pray? How many people are afraid to pray or follow Christ for fear of being "rebuked" by their friends or families? Bartimaeus is not deterred, and neither should we be deterred. He is rewarded for his faith and trust in the Lord, not just with physical sight but with personal healing. The Lord offers each of us his healing power. It is through prayer that we experience healing that only Christ can give.

Finally, when Bartimaeus approaches Jesus, the Lord asks him, "what do you want me to do for you?" He asks each of us this same question when we go to Hin prayer. So, He is waiting for each of you and is ready to ask you the same question: "what do you want me to do for you?"

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