LITURGY AND LIFE
By Lucie Leduc
Jesus gives us the opportunity to regain our sight
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
At the end of a liturgical year the readings invite us to reflect on who we have become over the course of this past year. How has the Word transformed us? Where has God liberated me, brought me home, away from false patterns and ways of being and closer to Christ within me? In what ways have I matured to see with spiritual sight, with eyes of faith? How have I grown in gentleness, self-awareness of my own weaknesses and blindness, to walking with others and creating community on the journey of faith? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind.
Among them will be the most vulnerable and the most pregnant with possibility for new life, “those who are blind and those who are lame, those with child and those in labour, together.” That combination of vulnerability before God, knowing our blindness and weakness, being pregnant with anticipation for God’s work in us, suffering the labour of giving birth to new life, is what God gathers and transforms for creating a community of faith.
If you have ever felt exiled or alienated from community, family or friends, left to the margins under the authority of people who oppress without a thought or care, or if you have ever felt exiled because of your own turning away from what you know to be good and true, left in the wake of this with no one who understands, the psalm will have meaning for you. “When the Lord restored our fortunes . . . we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with shouts of joy.” Our experience bears this out. We know that only God delivers us from our own bondage or the bondage of others, and when that liberation comes we walk with a renewed sense of awe and wonder at how what seemed impossible is possible with God. The homeless family finds a home, the alcoholic recovers sobriety and peace, the adulterer is given a second chance, and all know that only by the power of the Divine Mystery were they freed and delivered to their truest self in God!
The letter to the Hebrews describes further how we grow as the baptized faithful in our priestly role. We walk with understanding and gentleness, aware of our own weakness alongside others who have strayed or simply haven’t the same understanding we have acquired by grace in faith. The author reminds us we are in the image of Christ who “did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest,” so that in the same way we do not just follow but live in Christ’s way, humbly, humanly, made holy in his Word, empowered by the Spirit and equally “appointed” by God.
In Mark’s gospel we see the movement of this growth and liberation into community and the fulfilling of God’s reign in action. We hear the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, crying out for mercy to “Jesus, son of David . . .” The title “son of David” is a statement of faith proclaiming Jesus to be the true Messiah and is used by others in the gospels seeking healing and forgiveness. This faith in Christ as the true Messiah gives them, and Bartimaeus in particular here, courage to cry out to him for mercy. Even when others give stern orders to stop crying out it does not stop him from crying out louder for Jesus to hear. We all have voices in our heads that try to stop us from crying out to God for mercy and healing. They come from the people we have encountered throughout a lifetime — from family, friends and the current waves of energy passing through us from the culture we live in.
When we have the courage and faith as Bartimaeus does, what happens in the gospel happens to us. Jesus hears, stands still and calls us to where he is. There is an attractive and overpowering silence within that overcomes the noise of our hearts and minds. We throw off the “cloaks” that represent our false securities and protections, our illusions, and spring up to be with Jesus. Jesus asks us, “What do you want me to do for you?”
In the here and now of our lives, incarnate in our midst, Jesus the Christ is present among us. Do we see and believe? How are we manifesting this in the world and in our communities? In what ways are we instruments for restoring others to spiritual and physical sight, fullness of life, and in restoring the gift of creation to health? At the end of another liturgical cycle, the opportunity is here and now to “regain our sight and follow Jesus on the way.”
Leduc recently moved from her position as program co-ordinator at Queen’s House Retreat & Renewal Centre in Saskatoon to take on the role as director for Star of the North Retreat Centre in St. Albert, Alta. She now lives nearer to family and grandchildren.