As you know, I just returned from being away almost two weeks.
Some people called it a vacation; but as I told someone the other day,
My idea of a vacation is that I sleep late and take it easy.
But on the pilgrimage I made to parts of Italy, Rome above all,
The group did not take it easy.
We were up early; we had Holy Mass every day;
And we walked a lot, including on the Appian Way,
the very same road Saint Peter and Paul used to enter Rome.
The first reading describes the return of God’s People
Back to their homeland, the land God promised them,
from the faraway places to which they had been driven
by war and persecution.
It refers to blind and lame people making the journey;
Mothers with children in their arms.
They did not have planes and buses.
They journeyed across hundreds of miles, mostly on foot.
In other words, they had to want it; really want it.
Meanwhile, in the Gospel, blind Bartimaeus hears Jesus coming.
He cries out, Son of David, help me!
They try to silence him, but he only shouted all the more.
Bartimaeus really wanted it.
Every day you and I get out of bed. We go through our morning rituals.
Then many of us to school, or work, or our chores at home.
Why do we do it?
I don’t particularly enjoy brushing my teeth every day;
but I do like actually having teeth – so I take care of them!
You may not enjoy school; so your parents supply the desire.
That is, they tell you, “you’re going; end of discussion.”
The point I am making is that with the things we do in life,
sometimes the desire, the motivation, comes easy,
other times not so much. But they don’t happen without it.
Our students who compete so well in sports;
that doesn’t happen only on the strength of a little effort,
a small helping of desire.
When all we have is just a little bit of want-to,
the result is a list of things we wish we’d done, but we never do.
Changes we wish we’d made in our lives.
Places we wish we’d gone;
people we wish we’d gotten to know, or stayed in touch with;
ways we wish we’d made ourselves better –
and we could have done it, you know?
But, well, we never got around to it.
I have lots of those regrets; and they are the worst things to have.
So my question is, are there things on that list for you?
Things you want to do, or to change, but oh!
You just can’t find enough motivation
and stick-to-it-tive-ness to see it through?
One of the things many, many people find discouraging
is that they trip over the same sins over and over again.
You aren’t alone! Everyone struggles with this!
And St. Terese, the Little Flower, made a great point about this,
because this bothered her, too.
She realized that if God took away these sins too quickly,
then she would be tempted to spiritual pride;
and that was a far greater danger!
However frustrating it is, facing those same sins again and again
teaches us that you and I cannot save ourselves.
Even more important is the getting back up, again and again.
That teaches us perseverance.
So, let’s get back to those things we know we ought to tackle,
Those changes, those habits, those resolves,
that we never get around to.
How often people will say, “Oh, if only I had enough motivation.”
The answer is, that comes from Jesus Christ.
That’s what the second reading is about: He came to our rescue.
So I’m going to propose something very simple; ridiculously simple.
Are you ready?
If you have a vice you can’t break, or a project you can’t get going;
or you want to begin a new habit, but you can’t get started…
Ask Jesus to give you the desire.
Ask for it!
Are you prepared to go to Jesus and confess that you are weak?
Absurdly weak, flat-on-your-back weak? You can’t do it! But he can.
It is very humbling, even humiliating, to do that;
But it is the necessary starting point.
Ask, ask, and keep asking!
Be like Bartimaeus and cry out all the louder.