Marco…Polo

Sunday October 24, 2021 The Thirtieth Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

The tie in between today’s readings: There’s always hope with God.

Psalm 126:1-6Jeremiah 31:7-9Hebrews 5:1-6, Mark 10:46-52Mark 10:46-52

Today’s gospel gives us an insight into a man. His name is Bartimaeus. They call him Blind Bartimaeus so that nobody confuses him with regular Bartimaeus, the productive person in their town. Every morning, he would feel his way along the buildings until he reached his spot and sat down with the other beggars along the Jericho road. Maybe someone would have pity on him today and throw him a shekel. Maybe someone could help him get to the market and not rob him so that he could buy some bread and eat tonight. That would be grand. There have been so many hungry nights…too many.  Sitting in the dark, he can hear hush tones around him saying how useless he is. Helpless. Worthless. Pathetic. He has prayed many times that God would put him out of his misery. Each morning he debates whether today he should sit down with the others or… just keep going down the Jericho road out into the desert to die. “But not today,” he argues with himself, “Maybe hold on for one more day.” When you’re a blind guy begging on the side of a busy street, you hear a lot of the usual things: griping about Roman taxes, how the crops are doing, and every once in a while, something new. This man named Jesus, who can heal the sick and raise the dead. “I wonder,” he thought many times, “What if Jesus came here?”  That became the thread of his hope.

 Today was like any other, no one had given him anything, so far. He swiped away the insects and despaired when he thought of another …then unexpectedly, the background drone of the crowd grew louder. What is it? What was that they said? G? Gees. Jesus! An adrenaline bolt shot through him. This is it!

Blind Bartimaeus shouted out of his darkness into the Judean afternoon, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The crowd shouted him down, “Shut up!”

“Shut up?” he thought, “Why would they want to shut me up? Jesus is coming. He can heal me. He must heal me! If not, I’ve got nothing left but death in the desert!”

He cried out again. The crowd rebuked him even louder. He could feel the intensity of the throng growing around him. Jesus was getting closer! His last desperate chance:

 “JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!” … (Marco!).

 “Who called to Me?” … (Polo!). The crowd quieted. “Bring him to Me.” 

  Feeling ashamed, the crowd encouraged Bartimaeus to come to Jesus.

  “What shall I do for you?” He asked.

  “Rabboni, that I may see.” Bartimaeus replied.

   “Go. Your faith has made you well.” Jesus said and it was so. The crowd was amazed and gave glory to God.

Formerly Blind Bartimaeus followed Jesus out of town shouting praises to God on the Jericho road. It was a different road now.

They say that in life a man cannot last a minute without hope. That is why God always offers it. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is our Old Testament reading today. He proclaimed to wicked Judah that there was hope to escape the coming destruction from God if they repented.  They refused.  God’s judgment came by Nebuchadnezzar and exile in Babylon.  Yet, even now, in our passage God promises to restore Israel after their time of punishment.  We can take this principle to heart. Our disobedience has consequences. We will reap what we sow. Sin leaves scars.  But God promises a way of renewal and reconciliation back to Him if you want it. You are never beyond hope with the Almighty.

The title of Psalm 126 should be “Pinch Me I Must Be Dreaming” as it picks up on the return of the exiles back to Jerusalem. Now, in their exhilaration, the great task of rebuilding lies ahead of them. There is a new hope that with God’s help, their efforts in faith will be rewarded. I get this from verses 5 and 6, which are used in the hymn, Bringing in the Sheaves. God has things for us to do. It is our adventure with Him in this life. Faith calls us to action. Hope anticipates the outcome. We shall indeed rejoice.

We hope in God. He meets us where we are. He gives hope in struggling, hope in trials, hope in repentance and, hope in the future. In all of it, God is there to help us through. As it says in our reading in Hebrews today, we have a great high priest in the Lord Jesus Christ who is infinitely acquainted with our circumstances. No matter what situation you find yourself in, He promised never to leave you or forsake you. The Good Shepherd is seeking the despairing, the desolate, and the hopeless. If that’s you then…Marco…Polo!

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