October 28, 2018 — Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Following Jesus is the work of a lifetime. At every step forward, one is challenged to go further in accepting and loving God’s will. Being a disciple is not just something else to do, alongside many other things suitable for Christians; it is a total way of life and requires continuing conversion” (Stewardship, A Disciple’s Response).What a challenge we have set before us as Disciples of Christ and Christian Stewards.
Today’s readings give us encouragement and strength to “keep on keeping on” in our stewardship way of life, starting with our First Reading, from Jeremiah. “Thus says, the Lord: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The Lord has delivered his people… I will console them and guide them… For I am a father to Israel.” We know the story of our redemption has a happy ending. In the end, God wins! And that means we, His disciples, “win,” too. It’s easy to become discouraged when we look at the world around us, perhaps even when we look at the difficulties within our own parish and families. But we know that Jesus has already conquered death and that God’s fatherly love will triumph in the end. Clinging to this truth keeps us moving forward in our ministries and marriages, parenting, our work lives and friendships.
The Second Reading, from Hebrews, offers another pep talk, reminding us again as in last week’s reading, that in Jesus we have a high priest who offers sacrifices for our sins (the sacrifice of His own life) and who is eternally faithful to us. As Christian stewards we are called to devote a regular portion of our time to God in prayer. But perhaps we find it intimidating to find the right words when approaching this great High Priest, our perfect and all-holy God.
Today’s Gospel shows us we need to have our “act together” before we can spend time with God in prayer. In this passage from Mark, we see that Bartimaeus received a powerful answer to prayer at a very low point in his life. There he sat, begging at the side of the road in a rather undignified manner. His posture wasn’t exactly reverent, and his prayer wasn’t eloquent, just a desperate, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” But it was a sincere cry from his heart. And Jesus, though surrounded by a sizable crowd, heard it, and called for Bartimaeus to come to Him. Folks from the crowd called to Bartimaeus, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” And right there on the spot, Bartimaeus experienced a profound moment of personal encounter with our Lord and the healing of his vision he desired.
How simple it is to encounter Jesus! All we must do is reach out to Him in prayer and we can be assured that He will hear us and call us to Himself. So, let’s all take courage this week knowing that Jesus is calling us right now to spend time with Him just as we are, in all our weakness and brokenness. Tell Him, the great High Priest, what your needs are and then, like Bartimaeus, follow Him, and keep on keeping on in this stewardship way of life. It’s a life with the ultimate happy ending.