Faith in the one Who saves us.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
During this month of October, the month dedicated to Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, let us ask our Blessed Mother for the Peace of Jesus Christ for our country and the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart in our world! This Sunday, I share with you a reflection on our Lord’s Mercy and having total Faith in Him. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
“Christ is Passing By - Going to Jesus whenever we are in need: God passes alongside the lives of men giving His light and joy. In today’s First Reading (Jer. 31:7-9) the Lord rejoices at the salvation of the remnant of Israel on their return from exile to the Promised Land: See, I will bring them back from the land of the North and gather them from the far ends of earth… the blind and the lame… a great company returning here. After so much suffering, the Prophet announces the blessings of the Lord upon His People. They had left in tears, I will comfort them as I lead them back; I will guide them to streams of water, by a smooth path where they will not stumble.
Jesus fulfils all of these prophecies. He went about the world doing good (cf. Acts 10:38), even for those who did not ask His help. Christ is the revelation of the fullness of Divine Mercy to the most needy. No form of misery could separate men from Christ. He gave sight to the blind. He cured leprosy. He healed the lame and paralytics. He fed hungry multitudes. He expelled demons… He approached people who had the greatest suffering in soul or body. We are the ones who have to go to Jesus. Our eyes have been blind… We have lain paralyzed on our mats, incapable of reaching the grandeur of God. This is why our most lovable Savior and Healer of souls has descended from on high. (St. Bernard, Homily on the First Sunday of A dvent, 78)
We must have complete Faith in the one Who saves us, in this Divine Doctor Who was sent with the express purpose of curing us, and the more serious or hopeless our illness is the stronger our Faith has to be. (J. Escriva, Friends of God, 193) There will be times in our lives when
we experience more hardship than usual. We will have moments of greater temptation. We will grow weary of the struggle. We will have periods of interior darkness and trial. These are moments when we must turn to Jesus, Who is always by our side. We must have a humble and sincere Faith like the sick and the suffering people of the Gospels. Then we will cry out to the Master: ‘Lord, put not Your trust in me. But I, I put my trust in You’. Then, as we sense in our hearts the love, the compassion, the tenderness of Christ’s gaze upon us, for He never abandons us, we shall come to understand the full meaning of those words of St. Paul: ‘virtus in infirmitate perficitur’ (2 Cor. 12:9). If we have Faith in Our Lord, in spite of our failings - or, rather, with our failings – we shall be faithful to our Father, God; His Divine Power will shine forth in us, sustaining us in our weakness. (ibid., 194) What a great comfort it is for us to know that Christ is near us! The mercy of the Lord. Bartimaeus: The Gospel of today’s Holy Mass tells the story of Jesus curing the blind beggar called Bartimaeus. (Mark 10:46-52) The Master is leaving Jericho on His way to Jerusalem. This is when Bartimaeus makes his immortal appeal: W hen He heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, have pity on me’. This man, who lived in complete darkness, had a tremendous desire for light, for clarity, for a cure. He sensed that this was his moment. How long he had been waiting for this opportunity!
The Master had come within range of his voice! Many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder. He could not miss this chance. What a wonderful example for us to follow! For Christ is always within range of our voice, of our prayer. He is passing close by us so that we will not be afraid to call to Him. St. Augustine comments: ‘Timeo Iesum transeuntem et non redeuntem’. He feared that Jesus would pass by and never return. (cf. St. Augustine,
Sermon 88, 13) We cannot neglect any opportunity for Divine Grace.
We should call to Jesus forcefully - even in the depths of our soul: Iesu, Fili David, miserere mei! Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! Let us make the following words of St. Bernard our very own: My only merit is the Mercy of the Lord. I will never lack any merit as long as He is merciful. And since the Mercy of the Lord is superabundant, then superabundant are my merits. (St. Bernard, Homily on the ‘Song of Songs’, 61) We go to Him with these merits: Iesu, Fili David… St. Augustine teaches that we should call out to Jesus with our prayer and good works. (St. Augustine, Sermon 349, 5) These works include acts of charity, professional work well done, purity of soul after a contrite confession of our sins…
The blind man overcame the obstacles of his environment and obtained his heart’s desire. Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here’. So they called the blind man. ‘Courage’, they said, ‘get up; He is calling you’. So throwing off his cloak he jumped up and went to Jesus.
The Lord had heard the cries of Bartimaeus from the start. But He wanted the blind beggar to give us a graphic example of perseverance in prayer. Finally, he finds himself before the Lord. And now begins a dialogue with God, a marvelous dialogue that moves us and sets our hearts on fire, for you and I are now Bartimaeus. Christ, Who is God, begins to speak and asks, ‘Quid tibi vis faciam?’ ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ The blind man answers ‘Lord, that I may see’. How utterly logical! And how about yourself? Can you really see? Haven’t you too experienced at times what happened to the blind man of Jericho? I can never forget how, when meditating on this passage many years back, and realizing that Jesus was expecting something of me, though I myself did not know what it was, I made up my own aspirations: ‘Lord, what is it You want? What are You asking of me?’ I had a feeling that He wanted me to take on something new and the cry ‘Rabboni, ut vdeam’, ‘Master, that I may see’, moved me to beseech Christ again and again, ‘Lord, whatever it is that You wish, let it be done’… It is now to you that Christ is speaking. He asks you, ‘What is it you want of Me?’ ‘That I may see, Lord, that I may see’. Then Jesus answers, ‘Away home with you. Your Faith has brought you recovery. And all at once he recovered his sight and followed Jesus on His way’. Following Jesus on His way. You have understood what Our Lord was asking from you and you have decided to accompany Him on His way. You are trying to walk in His footsteps, to clothe yourself in Christ’s clothing, to be Christ Himself: well, your Faith, your Faith in the light Our Lord is giving you, must be both operative and full of sacrifice. Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think you are going to find new ways. The Faith He demands of us is as I have said. We must keep in step with Him, working generously and at the same time uprooting and getting rid of everything that gets in the
way. (J. Escriva, op. cit., 197-198)
The Messianic joy: We read in today’s Responsorial Psalm: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage, it seemed like a dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, on our lips there were songs. Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage as streams in dry land. Those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap. (Responsorial Psalm, Ps. 125:1-6)
This Psalm of jubilation records the good fortune of the Israelites who were allowed by Cyrus to return to the land of their fathers. The Chosen People were full of hope at the prospect of rebuilding the Temple and the Holy City. This Psalm was later chanted on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, particularly on the occasion of important Jewish feasts. This is why the Psalm has been called the Pilgrimage Canticle.
To the south of Palestine lies the Negev desert. During the rainy season this area would be converted into an oasis. As the captives from Babylon returned to Israel they asked the Lord to renew the earth, to establish a new period of blessings. Their tears were converted into the seeds of conversion and repentance for their past sins that had brought down Divine punishment. The farmer who becomes wearied by sowing the field will one day return to reap the grain of his labors. So too the Chosen People sowed tears of reparation, the harvest from which they came to reap with joy and exaltation. (cf. D. de las Heras, A scetical and Theological Commentary on the Psalms, p. 325)
This Psalm is a foretaste of the Messianic joy of which we also found an echo in the First Reading. In today’s Gospel, Bartimaeus partakes of this salvation which will have its fullness in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. Jesus was attracted to the total blindness and great poverty of Bartimaeus. The Lord more than compensated him for his hardships. After his cure, the life of Bartimaeus was utterly changed: et sequebatur eum in via… He followed Him along the road. Bartimaeus had become a disciple of the Master. Our suffering, our blindness, can serve as the means for an encounter with Jesus. We can follow Him with more humility, with greater purity. We can draw closer to Him.
Courage! Get up; He is calling you. In those days, the Gospel tells us, the Lord was passing by; and they, the sick, called to Him and sought Him out. Now, too, Christ is passing by, in your Christian life. If you help Him, many will come to know Him, will call to Him, will ask Him for help: and their eyes will be opened to the marvelous Light of Grace. (J. Escriva, The Forge, 665) Domine, ut videam: Lord, help me to see what it is You want of me. Domina, ut videam: My Lady, help me to see what my Lord wants me to do today. Help me to answer His call with generosity.” (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. Paul, and all the Holy Angels, may God grant us the grace of true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Grace of total Faith in Jesus!
In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel