There is something about the work of restoration. Many times the term is used in reference to construction, as seen in the aftermath of storms and floods. People restore dwellings to an original state, perhaps with some updating or remodeling, accomplished through an enormous amount of sacrifice, persistence and love. The 30th and 31st Sunday Mass readings in Ordinary Time (Year B) give insight into God’s restorative love through Jesus Christ for humanity.

Restoration

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time readings begin with the prophet Jeremiah. He reassures the exiled Israelites to stand firm for the day will come when their lives will be restored. Although outcasts, God’s infinite love continues to guide them safely over the terrain until the time of the restoration. He promises an everlasting love which remains faithful despite their infidelity. When this day arrives there will be joyful dancing, praising and singing of the “great things God has done for us” (Ps(s) 126) because of his great compassion and mercy.

The restoration of the people also welcomed the restoration of the temple, where high priests offered burnt sacrifices and other offerings for the atonement of sins. This priesthood was ultimately fulfilled by our eternal high priest, Jesus Christ, who offered the perfect sacrifice once and for all and still intercedes for us at the right hand of God. Thus, by his passion, death and resurrection we are set free from the bondage of sin and are restored by sacrificial love into unity with God where we belong.

The Gospel reading from St. Mark is powerful. The blind man, Bartimaeus, is begging on the roadside. He is a common sight to the huge crowd following Jesus and the disciples. Bartimaeus persistently shouts out to Jesus for mercy, despite the attempts to quiet him by the people. Jesus hears him, perhaps both times, and asks for him to approach. Bartimaeus throws off the only possession that keeps him warm, a cloak, and answers Jesus’ call. The people give him support. As Bartimaeus draws near Jesus simply asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Pause for a moment and ponder this “encounter.” If Jesus were sitting right in front of you and asked, “What do you want me to do for you,” how would you respond? When have I cried out to Jesus in hopes of being restored? When have I persistently cried out to him when others tell me to be quiet? Did I persist or stay within the boundary of silence? Is there something I need to ask Jesus? What is holding me back? What needs restoration in my life?

Bartimaeus pleads, “Master, I want to see!” He not only knows of Jesus’ healing ministry; he also BELIEVES Jesus WILL restore his sight. Jesus hears his prayer, recognizes his faith and restores his sight. Rather than returning home, Bartimaeus chooses the sure path and follows Jesus.

“I love you, Lord, my strength” (Ps(s) 18).

As a child, the last words I spoke after my nightly prayers were, “I love you, God.” The simplicity of youth inspired me to say these just in case I died in my sleep, for I wanted these to be my last spoken words. Of course now my head hits the pillow and I am fortunate to even pray the Sign of the Cross. Seriously, though, what is the last the thing we think about at the end of the day?

Many people pray an Examination of Conscience to review how well they loved God that day. A simple examination is similar to what Moses is reminding the Israelites of in the first reading of the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. He has just passed on to them from God the Ten Commandments as the way of loving God and others. Ultimately, Moses emphasizes the call to love God alone with the totality of their being: heart, soul and strength. We are called to the same love through Jesus Christ. This love is to be rooted in our hearts in order to be able to love and live in the ways of God with Jesus as our guide.

This love is driven not by feelings or emotions but by our willingness to do what God has called us to: to love him and our neighbor completely. How? Perhaps we may need to smash the self-made idols which distract us from what is authentic and we choose to place God in the center of our worship. Perhaps we can commit to a more consistent prayer life, including Sunday Mass with the faith community. Perhaps we need to ask for a removal of blind spots to insure clarity, thus enabling us to see with eyes of faith, a clear 20/20 vision in what Jesus’ restorative love does for us. Perhaps we can sacrifice our time to help others. Perhaps we can just be still and know the love of God in our quiet thoughts. Perhaps we can remember to “take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you” (Mk 10:49), and simply ask Jesus, “Lord, what do you want me to do for you or them?” Or perhaps we can end our day with, “I love you, God.” Amen.

Dow is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.