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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

30th SUNDAY (B) October 28, 2018

Jeremiah 31: 7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5: 1-6; Mark 10: 46-52

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

 

 The 30th

Sunday

Ordinary

Time

Sometimes, when things are so bad in a person’s life and they have been praying for a long time without a seeming answer, they are reduced to silence. "What more is there to pray about? I’m prayed out! God has heard a lot from me about my situation, I have nothing more to say. " In times like these it is good to hear the words Jeremiah has for consolation.

There are plenty of readings from Isaiah through the liturgical year, especially in Lent and Advent. But we don’t hear much from Jeremiah. That is a shame, for he suffered during his prophetic ministry and he speaks out of his experience to those in similar difficult straits.

The book of Jeremiah is a rather pessimistic commentary on the moral failings of the prophet’s own contemporaries. He preached the unpopular message that the Babylonian exile was the deserved-result of the people’s failure to live the covenant that God had made with them. This did not win Jeremiah many friends among his fellow Jews. Today’s reading is a dramatic shift in the tone of his message. The people to whom he is speaking are in exile, suffering the consequences of their infidelities. They should have listened to the prophet’s previous warnings. What could the people now say to justify a hearing from God? They have no defense and are helpless. After turning away from God they could expect nothing.

Perhaps, under their duress, they had even given up on God and stopped praying. The Jews in exile might remind some of us of the situation in which we find ourselves. After wandering from God’s ways and finding ourselves stuck in a predicament similar to the exiles, how will we get free? What can we say to God in our defense? A suggestion: we could keep a silence and listen to what God has to say to us.

Our reading today is from, what has been called, "the Book of Consolations" (chps 30-31). It is mostly proclamations of salvation – good news. Jeremiah speaks to the people in exile, not on his own behalf, but for the Lord. Indeed, God’s message is for all people living in exile. God has seen the their helpless situation and is coming to rescue them. What moves God to act: the prayers and holiness of the people? No, God will rescue them because God notices and comes to save helpless people. What is the "reason" for God’s saving actions? It is God’s love for the people.

If we find ourselves in a bind, a situation we have caused and can’t handle by ourselves, then after saying the prayers we feel moved to say, we could listen to what God says to us through Jeremiah today. Hear the Good News: God will gather the scattered people and bring them home to Israel – "They shall return in an immense throng."

Frequently the prophets warn the people of impending punishment for their sins. In their prophecies God speaks like a prosecuting attorney, laying out the reasons for the punishment given the people. But in today’s prophecy of salvation, no reason is given for the good God wants to do for the exiles: it is pure gift, it is a grace. God is free to do what God wants to do – and God wants to pour out love on the people. Love, after all, is free of charge!

God promises: "I will gather them from the ends of the world with the blind and the lame in their midst." Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in Christ, exemplified in today’s gospel story. A blind man is begging, sitting by the roadside outside the town of Jericho. The man, like the exiles in Babylon, is away from his home, desperate for help. What God promises to do for the exiles, Jesus does for the helpless blind man; he gives him sight and leads him on the way to his true home.

Do you remember last week’s gospel and the disciples’ dispute about who would sit at Jesus’ right and left when he came into his glory (Mark 10:35-45)? Do you also remember Peter’s rejection of Jesus’ prediction of his passion (8:32-33. It is obvious that Mark is making a point about the disciples: they just don’t see.

The last section of Mark’s gospel is beginning. Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem. Before he does he cures a blind man – who then, "followed him on the way." Bartimaeus, healed of his blindness, becomes a follower of Jesus on the way to Jerusalem. There is no little irony here. Up to this point in Mark, the demons and evil spirits have recognized and proclaimed Jesus’ identity; while the disciples have completely missed the point. They need a sight that only faith can give them.

We too are about to enter Jerusalem with Jesus and, through the word, we will witness his suffering, death and resurrection. If we are attentive to that word we will also be healed of our blindness to God’s saving presence in our lives. We will, as God promised through Jeremiah, "Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: ‘The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.’"

As we heard in Jeremiah: opening the eyes of the blind signaled the coming of our saving God, and the beginning of the messianic age. Bartimaeus cried out for pity, but the crowd tried to hush him. The crowd is blind. The needy always seem to disturb the order and peace of established believers. Was that one thing Mark was trying to tell his church: listen to the cries of the needy, don’t hush them, but be quick to respond – as quick as Jesus was? The blind man, through his faith in Jesus, was cured. Meanwhile, Jesus’ followers will continue in their blindness – at least until Jesus is risen from the dead.

Once Bartimaeus can see, Jesus instructs him, "Go your way, your faith has saved you." With his new gift of sight Bartimaeus’ way is the way of Jesus. He has become a follower.

Our stories are unique and diverse. What we have in common is that in our baptism our eyes have been opened by the Spirit to see and follow Jesus. The early disciples had to learn that their plans for discipleship were not God’s way. More than a profession of faith is necessary for us to be Christians. Christianity is a dynamic endeavor that requires an active faith – the gift of sight – which leads us out of darkness each day so we can follow Jesus on his way.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102818.cfm

QUOTABLE


This then, is salvation: When you marvel at the beauty of created things

and praise the beautiful providence of their Creator.

Meister Eckhart, OP

 

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng.
--Jeremiah 31: 8

At the time that Jeremiah is offering people hope in God’s vision for the future, there were devastating wars and deportation among the nations. Throughout the Bible there is a repeating theme of going out and return. Spiritually, God is always trying to bring us back from exile where we are blind or lame or pregnant with possibilities to guide us to wholeness.

This weekend, we celebrate going out in mission to share the wholeness we have found. Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral is observing World Mission Sunday (usually observed on the third Sunday in October). The entire global Church comes together in support of mission and all the donations from these worldwide Masses go entirely to support churches, hospitals, schools and vocations in countries where the Church is new, young or poor. This is our chance to show love and solidarity to our family in faith overseas. Through our prayers, we support missionaries everywhere in spreading the Good News and by donating we respond to Christ’s call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.

In his message for World Mission Sunday 2018, Pope Francis reminds all that "we are not in this world by our own choice," and hence there is "an initiative that precedes us and makes us exist." Each one of us, he says, is called to reflect on the fact that ‘I am a mission on this Earth," which is why we are here in this world. In fact, the Pope says, "every man and woman is a mission." "To be attracted and to be sent are two movements" of the heart that "hold out promise for our future and give direction to our lives."

Pope Francis continues that the heart of the Church’s mission is the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm generates encounter, witness and proclamation even in "extreme peripheries." Through numerous ecclesial groups such as parishes, associations, movements, and religious communities, missionary volunteer work is a way of serving the "least" of our brothers and sisters, promoting human dignity and witnessing to the joy of love and of being Christian. "No one is so poor as to be unable to give what they have, but first and foremost what they are," the Pope says.

We are each a mission of love.

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus said to [Bartimaeus]:

"What do you want me to do for you?"

The blind man replied to him,

"Master I want to see."

Reflection:

Bartimaeus has no possessions except for his cloak. But he even casts that aside to get up and come to Jesus. He is a powerful symbol for us: what little he has he puts aside to get closer to Jesus.

So we ask ourselves:

  • Is there some possession or some way I am living that keeps me from getting closer to Jesus?
  • How shall I begin to change?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."
---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Reche Smith #0379083 (On death row since 3/14/02)
  • Terrance Cambpell #0064125 (3/28/02)
  • Wesley T. Smith #0765397 (5/25/02)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:  http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

 

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
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If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

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3. Our webpage: http://www.PreacherExchange.com - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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