|30th Sunday of Ordinary Time
126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
So as to be more available to the grace within the readings of
the liturgy, we might imagine Jesus walking with a large crowd down a dusty
road. They are talking noisily when suddenly Jesus stops and looks to where
he thinks he has heard somebody shouting something familiar to him. He asks
the people next to him to help the man up and then asks him quite an astonishing
question. The whole of the crowd stops still with the directness of Jesus’
There is a warmth and kindness in today’s readings. There are promises and
fulfillment. We are offered a picture of how closely God moves towards us
and offers us ways out of certain exiles, alienation’s and darknesses.
We can pray with the answer we would give to the question which
Jesus asks today, “What do you want me to do for you?” We can pray with the
reality that God works for our freedom and for the joy of our shouting “Thank
you!” We can pray also for the grace to desire to get up and follow him along
whatever road he travels.
We hear from the Prophet Jeremiah who is singing a different tune from his
usual repertoire of laments and accusations. He has spent much of his life
calling Israel back to their following their identity as God’s holy people.
They failed to listen so there they are in exile.
What we hear in our First Reading has an Advent theme to it. Jeremiah speaks
of shouting for joy for the loving God is bringing them all back, the blind,
lame and the little ones as well. God’s love sent them into captivity to
get their attention and their faithful response. Now God will gather his
beloved and reinforce their name as the Beloved.
The thing to note here is that all will be returning even those who have
physical disabilities or deformities. No one person is excluded from their
being in God’s holy family. Blindness was seen to be a sort of curse as was
being lame or ulcerous. God the Creator is claiming them all as blest and
belonging to God.
Mark ends this section of his Gospel with a symbolic summary miracle. The
events of Jesus’ life begin to take a dramatic turn with the beginning of
the next chapter as he enters Jerusalem on a donkey in triumph, but heading
for the cross.
These past few Sundays we have heard from this same chapter. Jesus has spoken
hard things about divorce, the danger of riches, and the role of the disciples
as servants of all. The symbol for Mark’s readers was and is, about our being
offered visions of life ordered along the teachings of Jesus. The disciples
and fellow travelers are symbolized by a person who has heard Jesus, but
wants to see him more clearly and follow him more closely. It summarizes
the whole life of Jesus up to this point; he came to be seen by all and followed.
This man who was blind, was unable to see himself and know what he looked
like. He could feel his face and have others tell him how he looked, but
these would fall so far short of the reality. Not to know what he looks like
might result in his sitting by the side of the road and calling out for “pity.”
There seems to be a consequent self-negativity when one can not see one’s
face and physical image. There are those who can see and do not like what
they look like in reality. They too tend to the sidelines in a pitying state
of being blinded by what they do see.
Jesus is passing by us all and asking us what we want him to do for us. By
our fallen human nature we have varying forms of visual impairment. We have
experiences of recovery of sight in relationship to some of creation. We
see the value of things and become sensitive to our using creation’s variety.
It does seem that the last impairment is our being able to see ourselves
as beautiful, lovely, pleasing, delightful, wonderful and blest. This recovery
of sight led to the man’s mobility; he got up and followed Jesus. Some how
Jesus helped him see himself enough at least to begin his recovery of the
more of him. It is the work; the mission of Jesus to bring to life all that
It is a truth that we can not give what we do not have. As well, we find
it most difficult to give what we do not love. Those who believe in Jesus
are invited, encouraged and expected to believe also in what he says about
us. The community of believers in the early Church was those, who like Paul
himself had recovered their sight about themselves in such a way that they
could follow Jesus into generous ministry and relationships. As there are
many ways to injure our ability to see, there are even more ways we can injure
our faculty of visualizing who we are in God’s eyes. It is in that condition
that we join the man on the side of the road in his crying out for “pity.”
It is also to that condition that Jesus enters and asks us exactly what we
want. Here is the challenging part though. Be careful! Do you really want
to see? Will seeing lead you to the appreciation and acceptance of your face
and person and history, which will then lead you to get up, follow him into
generous service and relationships. Does his love free us to love ourselves
seeingly and offer ourselves less blindly.
“Let hearts rejoyce who search for the Lord.
Seek the Lord and his strength, seek always the face of the Lord.” Ps.