30th Sunday Ordinary Time
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: October 24, 2021
“How can I help?”
For the past 3 years I have been watching a hospital show called New Amsterdam which is about a major public hospital in NYC.
The premise is that a new medical director is put in charge and is changing the management style of the hospital from business and cost focused to patient focused.
The director challenges his staff to use empathy, kindness, listening, and goodness with the key phrase that all are asked to use when they talk to a new patient or other staff “How can I help”?
This phrase reminded me of the gospel reading today when Jesus asks Bartimeaus “What do you want me to do for you?”
Jesus looks at the blind man who leapt up from the street, throwing off his cloak, with kindness and love – “what can I do for you, how can I help?”
This is a beautiful interaction, picture it in your mind, the blind man on the street, feeling helpless, in the middle of a huge crowd trying to see the famous preacher and healer passing by. He can only hear what is going on and cries out in hope to be heard “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”!
The crowd tells him to be quiet, to go away, ignoring him, but he cries out louder and Christ hears him and stops. He looks at him with love and says to his disciples “call him over”.
Bartimeaus is so excited, so hopeful, so faithful that his prayers have been answered, he throws away his coat and leaps up to see Jesus. Imagine this, how would he ever find his coat again? How much faith did he have to think that Jesus would heal him and give him sight that he got rid of the only possession he had?
And we hear: “Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”
Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
What an amazing interaction between them, one that allows us to glimpse how we ourselves interact with God.
In our lives, do we not also feel like Bartimaeus sometimes?
Do we not feel like we have something that is holding us back from living a full life, that we are stuck on the sidewalk of life?
Life can be frustrating…that we have a weight that we cannot bear anymore. A situation that seems to occur over and over again, and yet we can’t seem to find a way out.
It could be at work; or it could be at home or with friends. It might be a financial problem we find ourselves in, or a health issue that suddenly has come that we don’t know how to deal with.
We feel like we are trapped on the side of the road with the crowd all around us and nowhere to turn.
This is the time when we feel most helpless, that we know self-reliance won’t work anymore, and then we can cry out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
There is no greater prayer that God would like to hear from us than these simple words, “have mercy on me, show me your love, help me because I need you.”
God asks us only one thing, to have a relationship with Him who created us and loves us.
And the feeling that we will have is the same feeling that is spoken of in both the first reading and the psalm when the Israelites where restored back into relationship with their God: “the Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy”.
I know in my own prayer life, the times when I finally realized that God could handle the problem better than me, and handed it over to Him in prayer, were the times I felt the most peaceful.
One thing that helps me is when I am praying, I picture God’s hands and me placing the worry, or stress into His hands in my mind and saying, “it’s your problem now, I can’t handle it anymore and I need your help.”
This image of giving things into God’s hands is a beautiful one, and we may then think “well how will God act here in our lives”?
We know that we are God’s hands and feet in the world, so how do we become God’s representatives in the world and who is crying out to us right now to be heard? Who are we to help?
This is a good image for the parish as we embark on the journey of the synod in our church to see how God is calling all of us to walk together in the faith.
It is also a good thing for us to reflect on as we are creating the parish that we want to become as we move into our building in about 16 months. If we are called to the beacon of God’s love for the people of Hamilton Mountain with our new building, then how are we to respond as a community of faith to shine forth for people who feel like Bartimeaus?
Who is crying out to us right now that we can find a way to show God’s mercy?
- Is it the homeless and poor in Hamilton that are living in tents around the city that need our support?
- Is it the indigenous people in our region that cry out for us to listen to their cry and hear their stories without judgement?
- Is the people who have been divorced and don’t feel that they are or will be accepted in our community of faith?
- Is it the single mothers working multiple jobs and trying to raise their children that need our support?
- Is it the lonely people who live in their own homes or in nursing homes that call out to us for a few minutes to spend with them in companionship?
- Is it the young couples of the parish who are frustrated by “new way” of contract work, no steady employment, crazy house prices, and may feel hopeless as to how they can possibly start a stable life?
- Or is it the refugees and new immigrants in Hamilton that are looking for help and support by the people whose parents and grandparents have trod the same path in previous generations?
So many people at the side of the road, bundled in their cloaks, looking up to us as a community of faith to stop, to look at them and find a way to help.
We are all called as baptized Christians, to reach out, call out “What do you want me to do for you – how can I help?”