CNS photo/Paul Haring

Faith means trusting in God’s goodness

  • October 15, 2015

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 25 ( Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52)

The words of this prophecy sound far too joyful and positive to have come from Jeremiah. His prophecies were known for bitterness, lamentation, misery and predictions of doom. This prophecy, on the other hand, is alive with joy and a sense of a bright and happy future for God’s people.

Jeremiah’s ministry was a long one — he began in King Josiah’s reign in the late seventh century B.C. and faded from view around the time of the destruction of the temple and the beginning of the exile in 586 B.C. Both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had seen much devastation and destruction. His words were aimed at the exiles in 586 B.C. but were probably intended to prophesy the rebirth and renewal of both kingdoms. In both cases, the message was exactly the same. In the first few verses of this chapter (omitted) God assured the people that He loves them with an everlasting love and will never forsake them. The faithful remnant — those who survived the disasters — will be gathered together and returned to the land to live in peace, prosperity and happiness. Misery and suffering are temporary, while God’s love and faithfulness are forever.

The prophet had the ability to look beyond the present fog of despair and pain to the radiant future beyond. This future represents God’s will for all, but that desire is often sidetracked by negative human behaviour and attitudes. It is all too easy to be caught up in despair, disillusionment and self-pity when faced with tragedy, failure or illness. These are the sorts of things that we all experience at one time or another. Our world has been devastated and destroyed in many ways. It is important to remain focused on God’s promise of everlasting love and fidelity.

God will never turn away from us or abandon us. There is always new life and hope if we are open and willing to receive it.

The one who exercises any sort of spiritual leadership should be ever conscious that he or she is made of flesh and blood. An awareness and acceptance of one’s own weakness and imperfection should result in a compassionate and patient manner of dealing with others.

Those who are unforgiving and hard on others are as unfamiliar with mercy as they are of their own humanity. Leadership is not for self-aggrandizement and no one can claim such a status on their own. It is a calling given by God for service. Human spiritual leadership in any form should mirror the example of Jesus. He was tested and experienced suffering and struggle for our sake, but he did not claim anything for himself, being appointed high priest by God.

We can imagine the bleak world of Bartimaeus the blind beggar. Lying by the side of the road day after day, he heard only bits of conversations as people walked by. Perhaps some of them tossed a coin or two at his feet before moving on.

The day came when Jesus Himself walked by, and Bartimaeus felt hope surge up within him. He began to cry out, addressing Jesus as the Son of David — a Messianic title. In some respects, his sight was more acute than those who walked by him, for he recognized the significance of Jesus. He was an example of someone who truly believed that God’s love was everlasting and that a brighter future awaited him. He would not be silenced by some of the self-important individuals around Jesus.

When asked by Jesus what he wanted Him to do, his reply was simple: I want to see again. He addressed Jesus as “my teacher” — clearly he had already learned something about life and about God just from the bits he had gleaned from the conversations of others. Jesus insisted that it was the man’s faith that had healed him. Faith is hope, courage and trust in the goodness and mercy of God despite appearances or what we may be experiencing. Surrendering to despair, hopelessness or cynicism is the ultimate defeat. We live in a negative and fearful time, a time that calls for remembering God’s promises and walking on the path that God illuminates before us.

Like the blind man, we must never cease to cry out in hope for mercy, healing and new life.

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