30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Jeremiah 31:7-9
Reading II Hebrews 5:1-6
Gospel Mark 10:46-52
How well do you and I see with our hearts? We know for sure that if this half of the church was blind, and this half of the church could see, that there would be no assurance that these people on this side would be better people than those on the other side. The blind can see. Sometimes those who see — don’t see anything. And Jesus is trying to say, “You know my message to you at this time is that I want you to know that I am the Son of God. I want to change your hearts. This blind man, he’s driving all of you crazy but he senses that something is going on and people are following me. So to get you to understand, I am going to tell this man that physically now he can see.”
Jesus didn’t say to him, “Now that you can see, am I the most handsome man in the world?” He didn’t say anything except, “Get up. Now start doing what you know in your heart you’ve been asked to do.”
So you and I each day in our prayers need to say, “Lord, help me to see with the eyes of faith. Help me to hear with my ears the cries of the poor. And let me speak from my heart the words of comfort to those in need.”
We make a lot of trips to Haiti. If you would go to Haiti next week, when you land you would look around and think, “Wow. This isn’t Quincy.” One thing you find out in a hurry is that you don’t look at the surroundings. You begin to look at the people. When they come in and want medical attention you don’t say, “Well, your shirt and shoes — they don’t match.” Instead the mission team says, “What can I do for you?” And you look right into the eyes of each person.
Then we discover how rich and trusting they are. They think, “Here are people from a different country and they are helping me to see, to breath, to have surgery and to help me with my ailments. I don’t even know them. But I trust them. ‘God, you must have sent them.’ ”
If you were to go to Congress next week and be elected Speaker of the House, you would quickly find out that there are all kinds of factions going on among our elected representatives and senators. These are the people you and I, and our sisters and brothers, have elected. But their ears are closed. Their eyes are closed. Everybody wants his or her own thing and consequently no one gets anything done.
If Jesus really wanted to make an impression he could walk in and say, “I’m the Speaker of the House. If you don’t follow me you will immediately lose your eyesight and your ability to hear.” Wouldn’t that be the breaking news! But if he did that it might wake up the entire country to ask, “Who is this man? He says he’s Jesus and he is the Son of God and he walks in, and all of a sudden, those in Congress are not going to see or hear unless they work for the common good?”
So Jesus says to us, “Do you really want to see — because when I give you sight I am asking you to see the poor, the blind, and the lame because I created everyone to fall in love with me and therefore to fall in love with each other, and to be men and women of compassion you cannot have division in my kingdom. And those who choose to go on their own same path, they will lose their eyesight. And they will not be able to hear. But those who follow — they will.”
If we would go out to the correction center here in Quincy, the jail, and bring all the inmates here and mix them all around in church and then say, “Would you all like to come up here? We’d like to pray for you because you are our sisters and brothers. But somewhere you messed up. But that’s all right. You are still part of the family. We are all going to take you, one by one, and you are going to live with us this week. You are going to learn how to be family. You are going to learn how to pray. We will see that you have food and drink and there will be a warm place for you to sleep. None of you will have access to alcohol or drugs. There will be no firearms in any of our houses. You are going to learn to look in the mirror every morning and ask, “Who is that? Am I really being honest with myself? Do I recognize that person?
“And then after a month or so we are all going to bring you back. And we are going to ask you, “Who do you want to follow, and what do you want to see? Do you want to be Jesus and do you want to be that person of love that God created you to be? We set you free. But if you want to go back to not seeing and go back to whatever you were doing that messed you up — then go back and spend your life in a cubicle.”
I think that person would say, “I think I get the message.”
Does that mean that you and I would get the honor of the year on the front page of the Herald-Whig? Absolutely not. All we are doing is showing love and that is what they are praying for. Somewhere they are not seeing that love.
We have a lot of problems on our playground. I talked to one kid and I asked him, “What are you doing messing around and throwing rocks? Put the rocks all back. What are you doing here?”
He told me, “Well, my mom’s boyfriend told me to get out of the house and come back in an hour and a half.”
I asked another kid, “What are you doing here?”
“Pastor, there is no one home. I don’t want to sit home by myself.”
And the stories go on. They really want to see Jesus. We can’t have the magic, but one on one we can make a difference and we can say to each other with every smile, with every gesture of kindness, “I want to open your eyes. I want to open your ears. I want you to be able to speak nice things. Don’t give me any four-letter words. Say something nice to me.”
That’s how we change the world. So Jesus says today, and you and I are the ones calling out, “Son of Jesus, Son of God, have pity on me.”
And Jesus says, “Your eyes are open. Your ears are open. Your heart’s in the right place. Now let’s go together.”
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0016)