30th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord discounts the empty threat of the Pharisees who say that Herod is out to get him. It may be true, but it is not part of his Father’s plan that he should die at the hands of Herod. Our Lord knows the designs of His Father are far greater than the designs of scheming men. He knows in his earthly mission that he will be bringing to fulfillment the mission of every prophet that testified to his coming: to bear God’s message to his people, and to suffer death for it due to their lack of faith. In his case, it’ll be different: when he mentions that “on the third day I accomplish my purpose” he is probably referring to the Resurrection, after which he’ll resume his place at the Father’s right side, and, as St. Paul reminds us in today’s First Reading, intercedes for us. Death will no longer work to silence the Word of God.

At the same time Our Lord is saddened considering all the prophets who’d gone before him and Jerusalem’s resistance to believing in him, both as God and as Messiah. At the heart of Jerusalem, David’s city and a testimony to the Messiah and all the prophecies concerning him, the Temple represented God’s presence among his people. Now God was present in the flesh, in Christ. When those who didn’t believe in Jesus turned their back on God’s designs through his Son it wasn’t long before that Temple was destroyed (70 A.D.) and never rebuilt: believers are what count, not buildings.

Our Lord is interceding for us right now at the right hand of the Father. Ask him for what you need, but ask him especially for faith and insight into whatever part of his plan he wants you to help him with. Believers not only second his plan, they help with it.

Readings: Romans 8:31b–39; Psalm 109:21–22, 26–27, 30–31; Luke 13:31–35.

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday

Is doing good and glorifying God ever inappropriate? In today’s Gospel the leader of the synagogue seems to think so. He’s become so disconnected from the common sense the members of the synagogue show in the face of a miracle that it makes us wonder in what his idea of religion consists. He seems to have the attitude more of a swimming pool monitor than a religious leader, and he’s not along: Our Lord responds in the plural. They’re so off base that when Our Lord presents them with common sense they’re humiliated before the very people they’re supposed to be serving.

We run the same risk when our faith becomes a bunch of rules and regulations and we lose sight of what all those rules and regulations are for: doing good and glorifying God. Our common sense doesn’t get put on hold when living a life of faith: it is enriched by faith. It’s all built on loving God and loving others. If either of those two priorities are lost, we can rightfully question whether we are doing any good or glorifying God.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to give us that dose of Gospel common sense that wards off living our faith like swimming pool monitors.

Readings: Romans 8:12–17; Psalm 68:2, 4, 6–7b, 20–21; Luke 13:10–17.

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

In today’s First Reading Jeremiah describes the gathering of the scattered Israelites in exile as a sort of new Exodus, a new pilgrimage, where even the weak, sick, and helpless will not be left behind. It is a return to the Promised Land for everyone, despite their failings and limitations, with the Lord guiding and leading them, leaving the tears of exile and separation behing in order to return to joy.

In today’s Gospel we see Our Lord starting to gather together everyone and lead them. Crowds are starting to follow him, and in Biblical symbolism moving away from Jericho is often considered as moving away from sin, especially when heading from there to Jerusalem. In the midst of all the excitement we find poor and blind Bartimaeus, who is stuck. He ekes out an existence begging and knows with his blindness that going anywhere is difficult if not impossible. He hears the commotion and doesn’t know it is Jesus of Nazareth passing by, but when he does, he starts to beg Our Lord for mercy. The people in the crowd try to silence him, probably thinking he’s giving the same old line he uses for begging from others, but, as the Second Reading reminds us, our High Priest is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring: Jeremiah said no one would be left behind, and Our Lord is fulfilling that prophecy and curing the crowds from a spiritual blindness toward another’s needs. Jesus restores Bartimaeus’ sight and Bartimaeus joins the pilgrimage too: the Lord is leading him to a more joyous life.

When we are stuck in life, especially spiritually, struggling with our faults and failings and unsure how to get out of the rut we’re in, we too can ask the Lord for help. He will help us see a way forward, but not just a few directions to get us down the road: he will help us see so that we can follow him to where we truly need to go. Let’s follow him and also imitate him, not leaving anyone behind.

Readings: Jeremiah 31:7–9; Psalm 126:1–6; Hebrews 5:1–6; Mark 10:46–52.