Homily 30th Sunday Year B: Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Jer 31:7-9; Ps 126:1-6; Heb 5:1-6 and Mark: 10:46-52.
Christ our Compassionate High Priest
God’s compassion, love, mercy, and his solidarity with everyone, particularly the poor, the needy, the sick and the weak manifested in the ministry of Christ, the new ans superior high priest, stands out in today’s scriptures.
Jeremiah’s message of consolation, hope and comfort in the first reading makes sense to any one who has ever experienced any form of tragedy, be it illness, loss of a loved one, home, job, your car or a nasty earthquake, war or exiled. In the case of Jeremiah and his contemporaries it was combination of everything: arrest, imprisonment, torture, killings, public disgrace, and finally the fall and destruction of Jerusalem by the war lords of Nebuchadnezzer in 598BC.
Jeremiah’s message is clear and simple: take heart, take courage, be consoled, don’t worry, hang in there with the Lord, Jerusalem shall be rebuilt and I will restore you back to this city, the poor, the sick, the blind, mothers and children!
During Christ’s time it was on his journey to this same Jerusalem for Palm Sunday that he encountered Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus. He was not just sick with blindness; he was poor with no other choice than sitting on the road side to beg for a living. He beat all obstacles, recognized and acknowledged Jesus as the son of the royal David (Mark 10:47). He called Christ, Master and Teacher (vv48-52), with faith. Bartimaeus in turn received Christ’s, healing mercy and compassion. His faith insistence and perseverance are not only important here, but the compassion of Christ the high priest.
This compassion among other characteristics of a high priest is stressed further by the Letter to the Hebrews (5:1-6). The high priest is a mediator between God and humans, whose weaknesses he is willing to share. He identifies and deals patiently with the “ignorant and erring.” The sacrifice of atonement he offers is communal, both for himself and others. But in the case of Christ, as sinless as he is , he watches the backs of sinners. He eats and a great deal of solidarity with them. He sees himself as “called,” “named” as Aaron was in his humble service to humanity (cf. Pss 2, 110 and Leviticus 26).
Christ’s solidarity and compassion towards Bartimaeus is a practical example of an ideal and superior high priest whom we are called to imitate , especially in a world that constantly features the gap between the rich and the poor, the “voicefull” and the “voiceless,” the "strong" and the "weak". It is world plague with, war, violence, economic, spiritual, physical, cultural, social and political tragedies or blindness.
In any of these circumstances of "blindness" we want to ask for God’s compassion. We want " to see." With his blessings and restorations we want to follow him like Bartimaeus. We also want to make ourselves approachable by others. We want to go extra miles to assist those weaker than us. Help with solidarity to restore others! Like Jeremiah we want to be an instrument of hope and comfort to our neighbors. Most importantly, we want to listen and be compassionate to one another as Christ, the new ans superior high priest would have done with Bartimaeus.