Today’s homily is for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary time, Oct. 24, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video can be viewed by clicking here soon.
I think sometimes we make discipleship more complicated than it ought to be. All throughout the Gospels Jesus calls someone to himself–he extends the invitation to follow him–and either they do or they do not. To follow is discipleship. To not follow is not. Today’s Gospel introduces Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, who wants nothing more than to see. In the story of Bartimaeus, we will see Christian discipleship revealed in five steps.
Step 1. Bartimaeus is blind, has nothing, and sits in the dirt all day crying out for anything that anyone might give him. How pathetic. It’s disgusting and sad, and is quite beneath human dignity. Life’s circumstances have brought Bartimaeus low. He has no pride. No ego. No claim on anyone or anything. He is at rock bottom. You know, for many people it is not until they hit rock bottom that they cry out to the Lord. A coworker of mine at New Deal Market was a born again believer and spoke of Jesus to anyone who would listen He came to hear God’s call in a drunken stupor. He fell down into the gutter unable to get up. And when he looked up, he saw a bright light that changed his life forever. The rest of the world would have seen a streetlight, but Phil saw the light, heard the voice of God, and never had another drop again. Step 1 is recognizing that we are but beggars before God. If we have anything at all, it is only because in his mercy he gives it to us.
Step 2. We cry out to him in our want. Notice in the Gospel that everyone tells Bartimaeus to be quiet. They remind him that he’s nothing, he’s a nobody, and Jesus has no time for him. But Bartimaeus is courageous and cries out all the more! As we recognize our need and cry out to the Lord, there will always be others who mock us, tell us we’re weak, and who remind us that we’re nobody with nothing. There bullies in school, and bullies at work, and many in the world. They will tell us to be quiet, but they cannot bully our Lord. He hears our cry and bids us come to him.
Step 3. Jesus calls and Bartimaeus jumps to attention. The calling of Jesus that echoes in each person’s heart is what we call a vocation. The root word of vocation is the Latin word, vocare, which literally means, “to call.” Jesus calls us to himself and satisfies our every need through only four ways: the single life, the married life, the religious life, or the priesthood. St. Fancis de Sales said, “A good vocation is simply a firm and constant will in which the person who is called must serve God in the way and in the places to which Almighty God has called him.” We must respond.
Step 4. Bartimaeus wants to see, and so should we. So many of us are blind with greed. Blind with a desire for popularity or fame. Everyone wants to be a YouTube sensation. Money has become our God. Power calls us, wealth calls us, fame calls us…but God’s call is rooted only in love and our total happiness. Bartimaeus responds correctly. He wants to see. Do we? Do we want to see a world without borders? To see people without politics. To see not the color of skin, but the quality of one’s character. God sees beyond hair and piercings and tattoos. God sees the heart. He looks deeply into the soul of the person. How different our world would be if we could really see.
Step 5. Bartimaeus receives his sight and followed him on the way. We never hear more about Bartimaeus, but we know he followed Jesus from that point forward. And that is the way it might be with us too. Jesus hears our cry, lifts us up out of the dirt, opens our eyes, and bids us to follow him. We may never make the headlines or end up on t.v., or be a YouTube sensation, but we will never want for anything again. In Jesus we find passion, joy, purpose and fulfillment.