The following homily was given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, October 29, at St. Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington.
What do today’s first and third Scriptural readings have in common and how does that common theme apply to us? In today’s first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, we hear that by the power of God’s healing love, the blind see, the lame walk and the sorrowing are filled with joy. In today’s Gospel account — our third Scripture reading — we hear how Jesus heals the blind man called Bartimaeus. The common theme is this: just as God saved the blind and the lame, and just as Jesus healed the blind man who called upon him, so Christ will heal us!
Yes, Christ will heal us of our blindness. The question is: Do we realize that we are blind and so need to be healed? Until we can admit our need to be healed, we will not be crying out for Jesus to come and have pity on us, as did the blind Bartimaeus.
There is a blindness in each of us. We need to take the time to discover it, to name it, to own it and, then, to go to Jesus for His healing touch. Like Bartimaeus, we need to cry out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And when Jesus asks us, “What do you want me to do for you?” we need to reply, “Master, I want to see.” So, each of us must make some time for examining our spiritual life in order to see where the blind spots are. We must ask as we reflect quietly, honestly and without fear, “Where am I blind to Jesus and to His Gospel of Truth and Love, which is proclaimed by the Church?”
Yes, we each have some blindness. I propose several examples in order to help us begin the process of self-examination.
Are we blind to the fact that Jesus is present in the Church and through the Holy Spirit, uses the Teaching Office of the Church — the Magisterium — to teach us the full meaning of our Catholic faith and to do this in concrete issues and circumstances? The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome” (No. 85). “It is the Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates” (No. 890).
Why does the Church teach that abortion, physician-assisted suicide and embryonic stem-cell research are attacks on human life and are therefore evil and sinful? Why does the Church teach that marriage is the union of one man with one woman — and only that? Why? Because She desires to lead us to the fullness of truth, so that, living in the Truth and by the Truth, we can uphold the common good.
Are we blind to what the Church is teaching? If so, we must go to Jesus and ask Him to remove out blindness. We must study and reflect in order to see with the eyes of faith what is true, good and right, and then, with courage, to do it.
Are we blind to the fact that our worship at Mass and at the other celebrations of the sacraments is both a privilege and a duty and that this worship, this prayer, requires of us a full, conscious and active participation? Are we blind to this truth? If so, we must go to Jesus and ask Him to remove our blindness, so that we can understand that in the liturgy, the public prayer and worship of the Church, Jesus comes to us through signs and strengthens us, not as isolated individuals, but as members of His Body, united to Him and through Him and with each other.
Are we blind to the fact that Jesus missions us to reach out to the truly needy and poor, so that His love for them can be visible and effective through us? If we are, we must go to Jesus, so that He can remove our blindness. We must come to understand what the Church teaches about social justice and learn how to apply it in the concrete issues of our day.
Yes, Christ heals our blindness if only we ask Him! Whatever blindness we identify and then admit, Jesus is waiting for us to go to Him. In fact, He keeps calling us, so that like Bartimaeus, we may throw aside whatever is holding us back, spring up and come to Jesus. When we ask Him, “I want to see,” He will heal us and then send us with new sight to follow Him on the way.
Our Christian life is a following of Jesus on the way. Today, now, let us let Him remove the blindness that keeps us from seeing clearly, and with new sight and a willing heart, let us follow Him all the way to heaven!