Reflection for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B Homily by Fr. Jerome Ituah, OCD

Readings: Jer 31:7-9; Ps 125(126); Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52 Theme: The Joy of Divine Restoration

Chapter 31 of the prophet Jeremiah continues the theme of the restoration of Israel and Judah in chapter 30. Israel, Ephraim and Samaria, names typical of the northern kingdom of Israel, are used in an inclusive way for both kingdoms of Israel and Judah. To understand our first reading today, we need to remind ourselves of the Assyrian exile. The Assyrians were brutal and took the Israelites in the northern kingdom into exile and settled a new people in the kingdom of Israel. The prophet predicts a happy return of the exiles (vv. 2-3) and the restoration of Israel and the holy city of Jerusalem, also called Zion (vv. 4-6). Our reading today assures a total restoration. Shout with joy for Jacob references the twelve sons who formed the twelve tribes of Israel. God will save the remnants of Israel, those who the Assyrians have scattered to different places. God will bring them back to their land. There is a specific mention of the blind and the lame, nursing mothers and pregnant women. God is often concerned about the most vulnerable among his people. The physical infirmities of the blind and the lame or the challenges of the pregnant women or the nursing mothers will not be an obstacle to their return. God will lead them back to their homeland and guide them to streams of water (cf. Ps 23). With weeping, they shall come, speaks about their repentance as they offer pleas of mercy, which God will not ignore. God is a father to Israel and Ephraim is his first-born son. Ephraim was the favoured son of Joseph. But in this context, it refers to the entire people of Israel as the chosen people of God among the other nations. The first-born son has responsibilities within the family. He was the one who succeeded his father as head of the family. Israel, being first-born, was chosen by God to bring salvation to the whole world through him. God wants to restore the joy of his people, and he does that even today. The psalmist echoes the song of the returned exiles. When God delivered them from their bondage, it was like a dream. Their mouths were filled with laughter, and on their lips, there were songs. Looking at the world or our immediate environment, we may think that all hope is lost. Yet, God is still there and will restore our joy as individuals, people, and world. Jesus demonstrates that he has come to restore the joy of the afflicted. The blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing. Although he could not see him physically, he saw something spiritually which others could not see. The title, ‘Son of David,’ is a messianic title. In other words, Bartimaeus recognized Jesus as the Messiah. He shouted, calling on the Messiah to do that for which he came into the world, to have pity on him. He would not be silenced and suppressed. As they scolded him, he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ His reaction to the call of Jesus shows someone who was already full of joy even before he received his healing. He threw off his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus. He was already excited. When Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He addressed Jesus as ‘Rabbuni,’ ‘my great one or teacher.’ He said, ‘Rabbuni, let me see again.’ Jesus then said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you.’ His faith saved him, and his joy returned at seeing again. To confirm his joy and happiness, he followed Jesus along the way. The blind Bartimaeus represent every one of us in need of God’s mercy, healing and care. Our attitude should be, first, of acknowledgement of the presence of the divine. Second, confidence in divine care of God and cry to God irrespective of the setbacks we may face from people. Third, courage to approach Jesus. Fourth, clarity in telling God what we need without any ambiguity. Finally, following Jesus as an expression of the joy of divine restoration.

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