|Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor|
This is as good as it gets in today's scriptures: "the Lord has delivered his people"; "I will bring them back"; "I will gather them"; "they departed in tears but I will console them"; "(I will) guide them ... lead them."
These are the prophetic utterances of Jeremiah who speaks of God's great love and care of this people, Israel.
God declares himself as their father. There seems to be no limits to his love, guidance, healing and restoring care. This is our great God as he relates to his people. God even delights in referring to the many who are satisfied with his love as he announces: "they shall return as an immense throng."
Not only does the word reveal a loving God who treats his people with such kindness and goodness, he shows the same love for the individual person through Jesus who listens, responds and brings healing to yet another individual.
Jesus, surrounded by a sizable crowd, hears the voice of one person — Bartimaeus — who was crying out when he heard that Jesus was passing by. This blind man had heard of his healing power. Not anyone nor anything could silence his cries.
Jesus heard him, called him over, and asked what he wanted. Jesus sent him away healed and restored and with an even stronger faith.
Whether it is God listening to his people or Jesus listening to an individual person, the same message is proclaimed loudly and clearly today.
The psalmist pulls it all together in the refrain we sing and pray today: "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy."
But some feel quite the opposite. They feel that God does not hear their voice or their cry. They are convinced that God has abandoned them and has not responded to their needs. They have given up on prayer and seeking because it seems their prayers are never answered.
Today's word is no consolation but rather a painful reminder of their sorrowful and despairing lack of hope — their growing faithlessness.
I wonder how many years Bartimaeus may have felt the same. I wonder if he ever felt abandoned, punished and forsaken by God. I wonder if it isn’t simply a part of the human condition to sometimes feel this way.
But perhaps like Bartimaeus there comes the day when, in spite of all of the noise around us and the usual busyness of life, we can still hear that voice of Jesus or recognize the presence of God.
Perhaps God is most near and listening deeply to us when we are lost in our blindness, have surrendered to voiceless cries, get stuck in paralyzed moments, or can't hear because of our deafness or feel because of our hardened hearts.
May we have the fortitude and clarity of Bartimaeus to cry out again and again until we know we are heard, until we feel the Lord asking for what we want or need, until our spirit is connected with the Lord of life.
Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email email@example.com.