Ordinary 30th Sunday
Ordinary 30th Sunday
Jer. 31: 7-9 Heb. 5: 1-6 Mk. 10: 46-52
GOD OF THE LEAST
By cultivating the necessary qualities, all human beings, esp. the least, can experience the abundance of life.
God’s Option for Human Beings:
One of the recurrent themes of the Bible is that God is closer to the least, the last and the lost. In the first reading, we see God, through Jeremiah, giving hope to the Israelites that they would return from the house of slavery: “I am going to bring them from the land of the north.” Here ‘the north’ refers to the Babylonian captivity. Judah was the least of all nations. It was vulnerable and easily overpowered by its enemies. So it was no wonder that God had a preferential option of love towards Judah. This is explicit from the words of Yahweh: “I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.”
Though Jeremiah spoke of the new life that the Israelites would get, he went one step ahead and said that even among the Israelites, there were people who were considered to be the least. They were the blind, the lame and women. These were the least of the least. Jeremiah pointed out that God has a preferential love towards them: “among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labour, together; a great company, they shall return here.” What was prophesized by God through Jeremiah was made a reality in the life of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus empowered the weak, he consoled the bereaved; he gave sight to the blind. He made it explicit, through word and deed, that God is closer to the least. Today’s gospel is just an example.
When we say that God has a preferential love towards the least of the society, it should not make us surmise that God is much away from those who are not the least – the rich, the proud, the arrogant etc.. Rather it is these people who, because of their love for money and their egoistic self, keep themselves away from God. In fact it is not God who rejects them, rather it is these people who reject God.
Human Beings’ Option for God:
Even though it is true that God is ready to offer life to the least, and in fact to each human being, it is important that they lend an active co-operation to God. Passivity will not much help a person. One has to be positively active. This is what we see in Barthimeus. His continuous and persistent utterance, ‘Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me’ reveals how he was very dynamic and active in getting God’s promise fulfilled in his life. As God opts for human beings, they, in turn, should opt for God. This option for God involves in lending an active co-operation to His initiatives.
This active co-operation of a person to divine plan has to manifest itself through two important things – namely in cultivating a strong faith and unswerving perseverance.
(i). Faith & Hope:
Though we use these two terms almost interchangeably, there is a subtle difference in their meaning. Hope is our firm belief in the positive nature of life. Faith is our firm belief in God. When people undergo some serious difficulties and problems in their lives, the first thing that they tend to lose is their hope – believing that nothing can be done to revert the situation. They tend to believe that it is their lot to suffer. It was precisely the problem of the Israelites. When they were in Babylonian captivity, they had lost all hopes of returning to their home country. It was at this time, the prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel tried to instill hope in them by continuously talking about the possibility of freedom from slavery and of return to Judah.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel were contemporaries. While both of them, in the first phase of ministry warned people of exile for being disobedient, in the second phase of their ministry, during the exile, they consoled the Israelites. They constantly reiterated the message of hope that they would return to their country and live a life of freedom. Jeremiah was taken as a captive along with other Israelites to Babylon, while Ezekiel remained back in Judah. Jeremiah preached the message of hope to those who were in exile, while Ezekiel to those who were allowed to stay back.
Contrary to the mindset of the Israelites, we see Barthimeus as a person, having tremendous hope. Though he was blind, he believed in the possibility of regaining the eyesight. He was keeping the light of hope lit always. During his long years of blindness, he would have firmly believed that someday in future that he would recover his lost sight. It would have been, for him, hoping against all hopes. However it was this hope that enabled him to have faith in Jesus and get healed. Only the people who have hope in the positive nature of life can have faith in God too.
People who have got formidable hope in their lives, assiduously strive their best to get what they want in life. That is what we see in Barthimeus. Since he had strongly believed in the possibility of regaining his lost eyesight, he persevered in getting the attention of Jesus, though the crowd told him to be ‘quiet’.
Wilma Rudolph was born in USA as a premature baby. Because of her premature birth, she contracted polio and it made her crippled. When she began to grow, the doctors helped her to walk with metal braces. The doctors who treated her told her, “You can’t walk normally.” Other people too, who were in touch with her, said so. However, she had a mother who constantly told her, “Wilma, I know that you are not able to walk like other children now. But if you have a strong will, one day you can walk normally.” It was the words of her mother, not of others that entered into the mind of Wilma. She took great effort to walk. Though she failed often, she persevered. At the age of eleven, she began to walk normally like other children. The story does not end here. Next she tried to run, but failed many times. She persevered. Finally she was able to run. To make the big story short, she persevered to the extent that she was qualified for the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956. And she got 3 gold medals.
There are plenty of people who, in the face of difficulties, allow their light of hope die out. Few are the people who carry their hope even during the moments of adversities. However their hope does not last long. Very few are the ones who sustain and nourish themselves with strong hope till the end.