Sunday, October 24, 2021

A homily about hope (30th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

These readings highlight the virtue of hope. 

The first reading is all about hope for the remnant of God’s People. 

And the blind man in the Gospel hopes for a miracle, so he can see.

Hope is about what you cannot see, what seems impossible. 

That’s what Saint Paul says in his letter to the Romans: 

when you see it, when you have it in front of you, that’s not hope.

So, question: how are you doing on hope?

I ask because there are various concerns and anxieties 

weighing people down these days: 

the way the government is handling matters, 

the rising cost of living, 

the employment situation, 

Covid and vaccine mandates,

the plight of Americans and our friends left behind in Afghanistan; 

and if that’s not enough, there’s always the fears generated 

by the Archdiocese’s reorganization project which they’ve cheerfully named…”

Beacons of Hope Light”!*

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing that off; just noting the humor.

Anyway, let’s talk about hope.

Hope isn’t about when things are going your way.

It comes into play precisely when the wheels are falling off!

Jeremiah’s beautiful words of hope 

were given to his people at the moment they were facing annihilation, 

the destruction of their country.

Bartimaeus inspires us, but he’d been blind since birth.

He was a penniless beggar, and his hope was for a miracle.

It ended well, but it raises a question:

If you’re worked up about a problem, are you as serene as Bartimaeus? 

If not, why not?

My point isn’t to promise everyone a miracle, 

but to illustrate the courage of Bartimaeus’ hope. 

Where does that hope come from? How do you achieve it?

Remember, hope is one of the “theological” virtues – 

Faith, Hope and Love – that come from God and it make us like God. 

So if you want hope, as the Holy Spirit for hope.

And I mean, more than just once, or once in a while.

Ask, ask, and ask 100 more times. Keep asking.

A second point: just because what we hope for isn’t seen, 

doesn’t mean we don’t see causes for hope, or signs giving us hope.

Bartimaeus was blind, but his hope was not:

he didn’t pick Jesus at random.

He’d heard things about Jesus that gave him reasons for hope.

So if you aren’t experiencing hope, 

then may I suggest you start looking around for reasons for hope.

If necessary, take a half hour, and a pencil and paper, 

and start writing down everything that is a sign or a cause for hope.

This is really old-fashioned advice, but it works.

Everyone here knows you can put a lot of things on that page.

A big part of Jeremiah’s message is that true, lasting hope 

isn’t in political power or prosperity, but in having God in their hearts.

Or, you could say, it’s not real estate but relationship.

It wasn’t about the land they longed for, 

but having their hearts and God’s heart fused together. 

That is the only sure ground for hope!

Now: stop and realize that what was merely hope for Jeremiah 

is not hope for us, because we have it! 

The new and everlasting covenant!

God came, became one of us, took a heart of flesh and blood,

and offered himself for us.

You and I have Him in the Mass, in the Eucharist, in our hearts!

“I am with you always,” Jesus said, “until the end of the world!”

You and I don’t have to hope for this – we HAVE this!

Nothing and no one can take this from us.

Remember Bartimaeus and remember what they said to him:

“Take courage. Get up. Jesus is calling you.”

* Of course it's "Beacons of Light," my mistake.

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