Thursday May 30, 2002 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Peter 2:2-5, 9-12) Gospel (St. Mark 10:46-52)
In the Gospel, we hear about Bartimaeus calling out to the Lord. First the people rebuke him and tell him to be silent, but then Our Lord calls to him and suddenly the people have a total turnaround. They say, "Stand up! Take courage! He’s calling you." They go from rebuking this poor man to telling him to have courage. The reality for each one of us is that spiritually we, too, have been blind, but the Lord has called each one of us and we now need to have courage. We need to stand up. We need to go to Him.
In doing so, He asks the same question of us: "What is it that you want Me to do for you?" We need to tell Him that we want to see. But it is not anything physical like Bartimaeus; rather, it is to have spiritual eyes. It is to be able to see the Lord. It is to be able to see what His Will is for us. We need to be able to see so that we can follow Him. That is what happened with Bartimaeus. He received his sight and followed Jesus. So too for us, we know who He is and we need to follow Him.
In knowing that, it tells us something of who we are. Sadly, most of us, even though we have some spiritual insight, lack the complete insight. In the first reading, Saint Peter tells us that we are "living stones" that are to be built up into a spiritual temple for the Lord. Then he goes on to tell us exactly who we are. He says, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own, so that you may announce the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His own wonderful light." He has removed the blindness and filled us with light.
Yet, so many of us prefer to continue in the blindness, in the darkness, because we do not want to accept who we are; more than that, we do not want to accept what it requires. We like the idea of being a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a people of His own, but then at that point of announcing the Good News, announcing the praises of Him who called us, we shy away because we are afraid of what other people might think. We like having Jesus as long as it is in private and as long as it is hidden away or with other people who are in the same position. But to bring Jesus, the Light of the world, out into the world and allow Him to be the light in us -that is where we get afraid. Then we reject who we really are and we choose to walk in the blindness rather than in the light. Rather than being like Bartimaeus and following Him, we walk away from Him. We cannot be doing that; otherwise, we are like Nicodemus: We only come to Jesus at night. We come to Him in secret. We come to Him when it is not going to be an embarrassment. We come to Him when we feel safe. We come to Him only when it is on our terms. Bartimaeus called out even when the people told him to be silent. When they rebuked him, he called out all the more. He did not care what everybody else thought because he wanted to see Jesus.
The question now is what about us? How much love is there for Jesus Christ in our hearts? Do we want to see Him and do we want others to see Him? Do we recognize that He is the light in our darkness, and that He is the light for the darkness in others as well? Are we willing to call out to Him, even when it is not convenient, even when we are rebuked, even when we are told that we are crazy and that we are to be silent and that we are to stop making a spectacle of ourselves or whatever it happens to be? Are we willing to put our faith on the line because it is only that faith that is going to save us?
It is by living that faith that we are going to built up as living stones into that spiritual house. It is only in living that way that we will be offering the spiritual sacrifices acceptable to the Lord and exercising the priesthood which he has given to us. You have been chosen by Jesus Christ. He has called you to Himself. Now, take courage; stand up and go to Him. Do not be embarrassed and do not live in the darkness any longer. He has healed the blindness. You have seen Him and He has called you. Look at Him and follow Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.