An ancient tree in Jericho

An ancient tree in Jericho

Both of today’s readings are great reminders to come to Jesus and to remain in him.

Today’s Gospel recalls another journey of Jesus, this time he is passing through Jericho with his disciples.  Sitting along the side of the road is a blind man, Bartimaeus.  The man, hearing that Jesus is passing by, begins crying out: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” (Mark 10:47)  He has such faith that he knows and believes Jesus can heal him.  He has such humility, he does not care who hears him cry out in his need.

Jesus heals Bartimaeus, and Bartimaeus begins to follow Jesus.

In today’s first reading, St. Peter invites us to come to Jesus.

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2: 4-5)

Great advice!  Come to Jesus.  Let Jesus build you (and me) into a spiritual house, a community capable of living in a manner worthy of God’s approval, through Jesus Christ.  Only Jesus is capable of building such harmony and unity in the world.

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Philip Neri.  St. Philip, because of his great love, received a special grace from the Lord to be even more loving.  The Entrance Antiphon from the Memorial Mass for St. Philip comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us.” (Romans 5:5, cf. 8:11)

Jesus poured the Spirit of God into the heart of St. Philip Neri.  This is how Jesus builds us up into the loving community God desires us to be.  This love of Christ is what allows us to live in greater unity with one another.

As I celebrated Mass this morning, I was very conscious during the consecration that it is Christ who unites us.  Each of us who listen to God’s Word, who receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist, are united in Christ.  Through the Sacraments, Jesus pours into our hearts the love of God through the Holy Spirit.

So, my friends, let us ‘come to the Lord.’  As Bartimaeus, let us come to Jesus with the faith that no matter what needs healing in our lives, Jesus not only can heal us, but WANTS to!  Like St. Philip Neri, the love of God has been poured into our hearts that we might live with even greater love for one another.  Be courageous and remain in the Lord at all times.

Unity is not only possible, it is God’s great desire, and it is ours in Jesus Christ!