Jeremiah, as depicted by Michelangelo from the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

God's word on Sunday: God reveals path out of darkness

  • October 27, 2018

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 28 (Year B) Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

It is easy to praise God while experiencing peace, plenty and happiness. What happens when disaster strikes and our world comes crashing down? In the Book of Job, Satan told God that if everything were taken from Job, he would no longer praise God or be a faithful servant. 

Many people find it difficult if not impossible to praise God while suffering loss. There are a fair number that lose faith altogether. They wonder how they can believe in a God who allows tragedies, outrages and injustice. 

Jeremiah chose instead to praise God amid misery and destruction. At the end of his long and frustrating ministry, what he had prophesied came to pass. The Babylonians destroyed the temple and Jerusalem in 586 BC and led many of the people into exile. 

His prophecy urged people to sing, dance and praise God for what they hoped and were sure God would do for them in the future. After all, God had never let them down in the past. 

Jeremiah realized that the catastrophe they were experiencing was not permanent and God had not abandoned them. Their response was to be a dazzling display of fidelity, faith and trust throughout whatever lay ahead. 

There would come a day when God would bring them back from the many places they had been scattered. God would give healing and hope to all, regardless of the ways they had been wounded and broken. 

This is the challenge facing both society and the Church today. Our society, along with its political and economic system, is in turmoil. The Church has been devastated by the spiralling sexual abuse scandal, severely damaging its reputation and the faith of many. Many disillusioned people walk away and it is hard to blame them. 

The way out of the darkness might be to praise and glorify God with greater intensity, even (especially) in all this darkness. Our relationship with God is the one thing that no one can ever take from us, and God is always faithful, merciful and compassionate. If we walk in God’s ways and remain faithful and hopeful, there will be light and life in the future. 

God will heal. God will give life. Much depends on our ability and willingness to walk this path. As the psalm says, “The Lord has done great things for us.” God certainly has and will continue to do so.

The Letter to the Hebrews gives us an excellent job description for a priest. This individual is not in it for his own glory or privilege, but is called. Of equal importance is the humility and compassion that he has learned from experiencing and accepting his own weakness, sinfulness and human limitations. He doesn’t have all the answers and he walks arm in arm with people rather than above them. 

Elsewhere in the letter, the author reveals that this is also a description of Jesus, the eternal high priest. He was tested in all human ways except for sin, enabling Him to be compassionate and merciful. Although this describes a priest, it also applies to anyone daring to call themselves a disciple or follower of Jesus.

The blind man in Jericho must have experienced many moments of despair. He survived by begging at the side of the road. His “window” on the world was the bits of conversation he overheard from passersby. One name stuck in his mind: Jesus of Nazareth. 

He was filled with hope, confidence and longing. Somehow, he knew Jesus would show compassion and mercy to him. As he began to cry out, many of those present tried to shut him up. Perhaps they told him not to be a bother, or that a man of Jesus’ status didn’t have time for him. 

But the man kept yelling and shouting — he would not be silenced. He eagerly ran to Jesus when called and was not bashful about telling Jesus what he wanted. He wanted to see again and his demeanour suggests that he had every confidence his request would be granted — and it was. 

He did on a small scale what all are called to do now: Don’t give up, keep seeking and asking, do not doubt for a moment that God will respond. This is an excellent definition of faith. 

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