Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 28, 2018 – Year B
Readings: Jer 31:7-9 / Ps 126 / Heb 5:1-6 / Mk 10:46-52
by Rev. Paul O’Donnell Duggan, Guest Celebrant
Today’s homily is about questions. Let me start by asking you whether you recognize these numbers; 5 28 62 65 70? If you had those numbers last Tuesday, you’d be a rich person. You would be a very rich person actually: 1.537 billion dollars richer. Some questions are very easy to answer, some are more difficult, some are very simple, and some are very profound.
What is the first question God asked in the Bible of Adam? “Where are you?” Not physically or geographically, but Adam of course was hiding; he had sinned. When Jesus says “Where are you, Adam,” it means where are you with Me, what happened that you are hiding?
Today’s question that Jesus asks of Bartimaeus is probably the most practical. If you were to list all of the questions Jesus asks in the Bible, this question today that Jesus asks of Bartimaeus, I would put down as number one the most practical question ever to be asked and number one as the most profound question ever asked. Bartimaeus was a blind beggar, and obviously the chit chat in the time must have been that there was a healer coming. So when Bartimaeus hears that the healer is in town, he shouts out.
Today’s homily, like a coin, has two sides to it. Side number one is: The people rebuke him, saying “Keep quiet. Don’t disturb Him. You’re a nobody, blind beggar.” The wonderful thing is Jesus hears him and tells somebody “Bring him to Me.” Whoever it was said to him, “Bartimaeus, Jesus is calling you.”
Now, who is Bartimaeus? This is the great mystery of God’s word: This was spoken over two thousand years ago, but it was spoken to all of us today as if for the first time. Today you and I, we are Bartimaeus, to have somebody say to you “Jesus is calling you” today, tomorrow, and the next day. He never stops calling.
That is side one of the coin, that Jesus is calling, calling you by name. How would he pronounce your name? I would think about myself. When my mother died, my name was Paul Duggan. Her maiden name was O’Donnell. They were unimportant people from another town that were looked down upon. When she died I added her name to my name, legally, so changing Paul Duggan for Paul O’Donnell Duggan. Would Jesus say “Paul,” would He say “O’Donnell Duggan,” or would He go back to the name Duggan?
What would He call you? At communion time, number one is just say to Him, “Jesus, let me hear you pronounce my name.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I hope all of you put your hand up and say “Yes, I heard Him call me.” Jesus is calling you, calling you by name. The mystery of God’s word that speaks today.
The profound question and the very practical question that Jesus asks Bartimaeus, is “What do you want Me to do for you?” That is what Jesus is asking each of us today. “What do you want Me to do for you?”
There is a word that people use, and I used to dislike it intensely, but then I heard it used in a different context, and that is what I would say to Jesus. When I come to communion, when I would sit down, when He asks me “Paul, what do you want me to do for you?”, this is what I would be saying to Him.
Let’s see if you know this word. When people have a heated discussion, like an argument, and at the end of it someone shrugs and says “Whatever.” I hate that word; I detest that word. But at communion time, when we sit down and I chit chat with Him for a while and I hear Him say to me “Paul, what do you want Me to do for you?”, I will use that word, but in the context of the wedding feast at Cana.
Remember when Mary told her Son, “They’ve run out of wine,” and then she tells the stewards “Do whatever He tells you.” That is the different meaning to that word “whatever.”
Now I am a great believer in that word. So I will say to Him, “Whatever You want, Lord. Whatever You want for me, that’s what I want.” There is nothing wrong, if you are hard up on cash, with asking for a few extra dollars, or if there are problems in your relationships, nothing wrong with asking for healing of those. But the thing is of course, He already knows that. But He did say ask and you shall receive, and there is nothing wrong with asking for physical things that we need or other things, like these addictions that are so common today.
Lord, this is no joke. Lord, you are asking me “What do you want Me to do for you?” Lord, heal me. Heal me Lord of this addiction, wouldn’t be a bad thing to pray for, to ask for. But that is my response today to Jesus. “Whatever, Lord. Whatever you want to give me, Lord, I am accepting,” because whatever the Lord wants to give us will always be good. Amen.