Today’s readings tell us so much about our amazing God. Jeremiah passes God’s words and feelings on to us. The Lord has delivered the remnant of Israel from bondage and is telling them to “shout for joy”, “proclaim your praise”. It seems that the Lord is throwing a party and is filled with joy himself because of their freedom, something he has given them. Then, this passage shows us the deep tenderness of our God who, as he leads them back, takes special care for the blind and lame who don’t travel easily, for mothers and pregnant women, and in addition, he will provide level roads that are spotted with brooks of water for those who are thirsty – not an occasional puddle, but babbling brooks. Finally, he will not just set them on their way, he will guide them and console them for “I am a father to Israel.” Who wouldn’t be filled with joy to be part of this journey when it’s planned by such an “event planner” who thinks of everything and is as excited as the travelers. Such is our God.
In the image of these people being led home from captivity, I cannot help but see the image of the thousands traveling North today through Central America, hoping for freedom from violence and poverty in their home-land; hoping that, after sowing in tears, they will “reap rejoicing”. Knowing our amazing God, we know he wants to rejoice with them and wants to ease their arduous travels, for surely, the decision to begin the journey was a difficult one, not taken lightly. God also looks upon them with love.
Seeing how deeply God cares for his people and wants to ease their journey, we are not surprised in the Gospel to hear Jesus’ words to Bartimaeus, after he had called out to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Basically, the crowd told Bartimaeus to “shut up”, be quiet, and leave this “important” person alone. But Jesus simply hears and sees a person in need – and he loves him. In Jesus, the Face of the Father to us, we see someone who cares for the person before him at a given moment – Bartimaeus, Zacchaeus, a leper , a widow burying her son, you (fill in your name) or me. I believe that Jesus doesn’t see a person who needs a healing or a problem solved. I believe he first sees, not a problem, but a person – and loves her or him. Out of that personal, tender love flows his question: “ What do you want me to do for you?”
Jesus asks each of us that same question all the time because he is loving us all the time. There are times when life is so mixed up or challenging that a person may not even know what to ask for – but God knows what we need more than we do. God wants joy and freedom for each of us but also knows we need level ground and babbling brooks as we negotiate life’s challenges. Bartimaeus asked, “Master, I want to see.” He received his physical sight but perhaps he received a much deeper type of sight as he followed Jesus, “on the Way,”
Today, may you hear Jesus ask you: “What do you want me to do for you?”
You may be surprised by the answer that wells up from deep within your heart!
-Sister Marian Baumler, SSMN
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221