We Are All Called to Spread the Good News

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Fr. Jim homily

5 minute read

(Audio recorded live, 24 October 2021)


Jer. 31:7-9; Ps. 126; Heb. 5:1-6; Mk. 10:46-52

Today is World Mission Sunday. In 1926, Pope Pius XI instituted that the next-to-last Sunday in October be dedicated as a feast of universal solidarity in our common responsibility to evangelize the world. All of us are called to be missionaries for Christ, spreading the Good News of the Gospel, glorifying the Lord by our lives. We are also called to support the greater mission of the Church. This is not only a precept of the Church, but a command from our Blessed Lord who bid his Apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20a). In support of this greater mission, our second collection today will go to the missionary work of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which provides for priests, religious, and lay leaders who offer the Lord’s mercy and help to the most vulnerable communities in the Church’s missions.

Today’s readings show us the many ways in which God has mercy on his people. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of the peoples’ return from exile. There was a lot of name dropping in this passage, so let’s take a closer look at the significance of those names.

First, the prophet tells Jacob to shout for joy. In this case, he was speaking to the descendants of Jacob, who was renamed Israel by God after he wrestled with the angel in the desert. The prophet then says, “The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.” So, Jacob is the tribal father, and the people of Israel are his descendants. Then the Lord says, “For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.” Now who is Ephraim? Well, Ephraim was the youngest son of Joseph, whom Jacob blessed on his deathbed giving him the status of one of his own sons. So, we have this memory of Ephraim’s adoption by the tribal father. Then, Jacob prophesies that Ephraim would become greater than his older brother, Manasseh. And the prophet Jeremiah speaks of the fulfillment of this prophecy in Ephraim’s adoption by God, calling Ephraim his first-born. So, despite their 70 years of exile in a foreign land, God has brought restoration to his adopted people Israel, descendants of both Jacob and Ephraim, and begins to fulfill the prophecy that Ephraim is indeed great.

This passage from Jeremiah is also about being called by God. God shows favor to his people, calling each of them by name. In the Letter to the Hebrews, we see of another way in which God calls certain men to serve. The author describes that “[e]very high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” This is still true today. I am here to serve you in the same way, offering gifts of bread and wine, which are symbolic of your sacrifices and prayers. The priest also hears confessions and gives absolution for sins. In many ways, the priest is the intermediary between the people and God. As Pope Saint John Paul II said, “The priest should mold his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humanity” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 43). The priest, therefore, is called by God to be this bridge for the people, and make it his unending mission to lead others to Christ, the High Priest.

We see an image of how this looks in the Gospel today. The Gospel has some name dropping, too. But, suffice it to say that whenever Mark provides names in the Gospel, it is to accentuate an important figure in the early Church. Today, we hear of Bartimaeus, a blind man who was sitting by the roadside begging. And upon hearing that Jesus was passing by, he repeatedly cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” And while the disciples attempted to quiet him down, his cries nevertheless reached Jesus’ ears. So, Jesus says, “Call him.” So, the disciples, as good priests in training, finally do what they’re supposed to do and say to Bartimaeus, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” This is not just the role of the priest, but of every Christian the world over. We should strive to hear the cries of the poor among us and help strengthen their courage and faith in Jesus. And for the second week in a row we hear Jesus ask the same question: “What do you want me to do for you?” The High Priest seeking to serve, not be served, asks this question of all of us. All we ever need do is cry out to him in faith, as Bartimaeus does in the Gospel.

God is merciful and wants to give us what we ask. So, let us ask that we may receive, seek that we may find, and knock that the door may be opened to us. With the Synod underway, the Church is asking with Jesus: “What do you want me to do for you?” I encourage everyone to reflect on that question of Jesus, write down your answer, and share it with the Church as part of they synodal process.

And now, as we contemplate the great mystery of our faith in Jesus Christ, our High Priest, let us remember that we were called by Christ to be here and now. And may the communion we share be a sign of our solidarity with the Church’s mission to teach all nations, strengthening the faith of others, and building bridges to Christ.

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