Thursday May 26, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Sirach 42:15-25) Gospel (St. Mark 10:46-52)
In the first reading today from the Book of Sirach, the Wise Man today is recalling for us God’s works and talking about all the things that he has seen. The important point here is when he says, At God’s word, all His works were brought into being. At His word. God did not have to do anything to make all that exists. As the Psalm said, He spoke and it stood forth.
That is exactly what we see in the Gospel reading today. Bartimaeus, this blind man sitting along the side of the road, calls out to Jesus, and when Our Lord calls him to Himself, He asks him simply, What is it that you want Me to do for you? The man said, “I want to see.” And the Lord simply said, Go your way. Your faith has healed you. Immediately, he received his sight. Our Lord did not touch his eyes; He did not do anything to the man; He simply spoke and it happened.
That is the power of the Lord. He is God. Everything comes forth at His word. If we go back to Genesis 1, it simply says: God said, ‘Let there be light.’ God said, ‘Let there be … these things and those things as He created them. He simply spoke and it happened.
So, too, it continues to be that everything God wills happens exactly as He wills. At His word, whatever it is that He wants to be exists. It is true for each one of us. It is true for things that require our faith, like the Eucharist. The change that takes place in the Eucharist happens at the Lord’s word spoken through His priest. It is not anything you can see. It is not anything we can touch. It is not anything that is physical, but it is real. And it is not that anyone did anything to the bread or to the wine, but it is merely at the word that is spoken, the very words of Our Lord Himself. The same is true in the confessional with the forgiveness of our sins. The priest speaks the words and the sins are gone. He did not touch your head; he need not look in your eyes. Nothing. All he has to do is speak the word and the sins are gone. So we see that in the greatest miracles – the transubstantiation of the Eucharist and the forgiveness of sin – all that is necessary is the word of God, to speak and it happens.
Now we have to learn a lesson from Bartimaeus, though, and that is his perseverance in calling out to the Lord. Even when people told him to be silent and they tried to get him out of the way, he called out even louder asking the Lord to have mercy upon him. We have to have that same sort of perseverance in prayer, to seek the Lord, to wait upon His Will. We might be asking for the right thing in prayer, but it may not be the right time. All things will happen in God’s time and according to His Will. We simply need to persevere, to keep crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And He will. He is all-merciful. He is all-loving. He allows difficult things to happen in our lives, as we have seen many times, but He always brings a great good out of them. His mercy is demonstrated in our lives over and over and over again. So we simply need to have the kind of faith that Bartimaeus had, the faith that one does need eyes to be able to see. Even the blind can know that God simply spoke and it came to be. The blind can know that the Eucharist is Jesus and that their sins are forgiven because there is nothing that needs to be seen with the eyes of the body, only with the eyes of the soul.
So in the spiritual blindness that most of us suffer from (since we can all see just fine with our eyes) we need to pray that God will touch us, that He will speak His word and our spiritual blindness will be removed so that we will be able to see clearly the works of the Lord and be among those that Sirach spoke of, the hosts of the Lord who fail in trying to recount His glory even though the Lord has given them the strength to stand before His glory. That is the desire each of us needs to have: to be able to stand before His glory, to be able to see Him face to face – not with the physical eyes but with the eyes of our heart – and to be able to glorify Him. Even though in our human weakness we will fail in glorifying Him perfectly, nonetheless, the fulfillment of our faith, the fulfillment of what God gives to us in sanctifying grace now is glory in heaven, and that will be seen and experienced only by those who live now by the pure vision of faith.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.