30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
MERCY BY NAME
By Fr. Chris Valka, CSB
Our first reading this week begins with a promise made to “remnant” – those who no longer have a place to belong – the ones exiled from the land promised to them by God. The second reading speaks, in a sense, of the fulfillment of this promise: the institution of priesthood and the eventual structure which provides for the Sacraments. As I read it, the Gospel offers the reason – the interaction between God and Humanity: an interplay between faith and mercy; mercy and faith.
There is a great deal of talk in the church about doctrine, structures and institutions. Anyone who is following the Synod on Family Life, now reaching its conclusion in Rome, knows this all too well. But the Gospel reminds us that mercy is personal. Upon reading the Gospel of this Sunday, this wasn’t some random face in the crowd Jesus healed – he had a name: Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus. Likewise, this blind man cried out, “Jesus, son of David”. If you want to know where you can find mercy; this Gospel would say it starts with those who you know, and who know you, by name. Jesus said it quite often: it is not the law or any doctrine that will save you – it is a relationship – belief in the saving power of Christ. Mercy is personal.
It isn’t that the law or any kind of doctrine is unimportant; but it is not where we begin. I have met too many people in too many wounded situations to believe anything otherwise. The “remnant” is a large and vast population today; and God’s promises apply to them (us) as much as it did to our ancestors. My prayer for each of us, as the Church, is that we be inspired by our Gospel today to call each other by name – to know their faith – before we try to hold them to the law or any other kind of doctrine.
Jeremiah 31.7 -9