Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 31:7-9
Heb 5:1-6
Mk 10:46-52
Back in the dark ages when I was a child, I remember a cartoon about a little bird named Yakee-doodle, a cat whose name escapes me who spent all of his time trying to make Yakee his lunch, and a bulldog names Chopper who always intervened to save Yakee. When Chopper would grab the unfortunate cat just before he could finally catch and consume Yakee, Chopper would turn to Yakee and say, “Close your itty-bitty eyes, you shouldn’t oughta see what’s going to happen next.” We’re a bit like the little bird, with our itty-bitty eyes shut, so we can’t see what’ happening around us.
Bartimaeus, a blind man, waits for Christ to approach, then cries out, Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me. Jesus has Bartimaeus brought to him and asks him what he wants. Bartimaeus, without hesitation, says I want to see. Jesus restores his sight, and says to him his faith has saved him. His faith, faith in Christ, has restored his sight. Ah, he can see, but now he can see all that is around him, faith has opened his eyes to the world, the beauty and the pain, the wonder and the horror. We gather today and approach this table in faith. We have faith in Christ, yet we are afraid to see. We want to open our eyes and see the beauty around us, but our vision isn’t exclusive, we can’t see the beauty without also seeing the pain, the wonder without the horror. We don’t want to see the awful things of the world, but we must. Our faith demands it. We are called to see that pain and horror, and act, act to change it to make the pain beauty, the horror, wonder. We can do this, but only in faith. We can do this, but only if we allow our eyes to be opened. Chopper told Yakee to close his itty-bitty eyes, he shouldn’t oughta see what was going to happen. Christ says to us open your eyes, your faith has saved you. Open your eyes so your faith can move you.
Deacon John
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 25, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Twenty-ninth Sundau in Ordinary Time

Is 53:10-11
Heb 4:14-16
Mk 10:35-45

Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. Sounds silly, but it is a reminder that the things want often come with a price, a price we did not expect, and a price we may not wish to pay. I remember many years ago as a child watching a show about a young boy who had only one eye. People, particularly other children, teased him mercilessly. He was miserable, he hated enduring all the teasing he took for having only one eye, and wanted something to happen to stop the torment he felt. He dreamed of a day when people would stop tormenting him because he had only one eye. One evening, while watching a fireworks display, a stray spark struck the boy, struck him in his good eye. Suddenly he was blind, instead of one eye, he had none. The teasing he endured the torment he had faced certainly ended. I doubt he wanted it to end the way it did, but in the end he did get what he asked for. In the Gospel today the sons of Zebedee, James and John, approach Jesus asking that when Jesus comes into his glory they be seated one on his right and one on his left. Jesus essentially tells them to be careful of what they are asking for, they may get it. He warns them they must follow his path, the path of the suffering servant. They are seeking glory, Jesus warns them they will find hardship, difficulty, pain, death. He also warns them that the path to glory is not a path of leadership that lords over people, but it is rather a path that leads through service. To follow Christ, to get what they seek, they must be ready to suffer and to serve. To follow Christ they must follow the example of Christ and serve others, serve those who would seem to be beneath them. Christ wants them to understand no one is beneath them, no service is too menial, no person unworthy of their work. Glory is not what they think. Real glory is found in being ready to serve, being ready to suffer, in the pouring out of self. We who seek to follow Christ, we who wish to share in the glory of Christ, who may wish to be seated on Christ’s right or left, we must understand what real glory is. Glory has a price, a price we must be willing to pay. Real glory comes to us when we pour ourselves out, when we share what we have, what we are, with those some may deem unworthy of our love. To lead we must serve. To find Christ and share in Christ’s glory, we must be willing to give who we are. We must understand what it is we are asking for.

Deacon John
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 18, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 7:7-11
Heb 4:12-13
Mk 10:17-30

I have to admit that I have a relatively comfortable life. While I am not wealthy, I certainly lack for almost nothing. My waistline will definitely attest to the fact that I am not starving. One could say that I am blessed by God, but I am not fool enough to believe that just because I am not poor, God somehow favors me over others. I do not believe that God loves me more than someone who is less fortunate than I am. That strikes me as being more than a bit arrogant, and certainly more than a bit foolish. But some people do see things just that way. The people of Jesus time did see things just that way. When Jesus proclaimed that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God they were genuinely shocked. Wealth was a sign of God’s favor. One who was sick or poor must have done some evil thing to deserve such a fate. A young man approaches Jesus and asks how he may attain eternal life. Jesus admonishes him to keep the commandments. He replies I do and have, all my life. Jesus then tells him, go and sell all you have, give it to the poor, then come and follow me. The young man was devastated. He was like me, like many of us. He had a comfortable life, possessions, to him signs of God’s favor. Give it away, be poor, like a sinner, like one who hadn’t followed the commandments? He simply could not do it. I don’t condemn him, I don’t know that I could do it either. But let’s not make the mistake that Jesus was condemning his wealth, that Jesus was opposed to what the young man had, Jesus wanted to know something else. What were his priorities? What was more important, his possessions, or God? What really mattered to him? Jesus asks that same question of us. What are our priorities? What comes first, your stuff, or God?

Deacon John
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 11, 2009