This 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time found me installing the new pastor of St. Vincent de Paul parish in Federal Way. It was a joyous celebration and a very good representation of the parish were on hand.
If you have never been to an installation ceremony, it is quite instructive. The new pastor is introduced to the parish, and specifically to the parish staff, pastoral council and finance council members. There is a clear observation that the Church is synodal, meaning built upon respectful relationships that collaborate in carrying out the mission.
After these introductions, the Pastor leads the faith community in their profession of the faith.
Remember, my brother Frank, always be a loving father, a gentle shepherd and a wise teacher of your people, so that you may lead them to Christ who will strengthen all that you do.
As a teacher of that faith, I ask you now to lead your people in the profession of their faith.
Then, the new pastor renews his profession of faith and makes an oath of fidelity.
In one beautiful celebration, we see the core of our Catholic faith; the faith community gathers together as one, we listen to the Word of God, profess our faith and celebrate the Eucharist, and are then sent to be witnesses to Christ in the world.
Today’s Gospel (Mark the 10:46-52) Jesus restores sight to the blind man, Bartimaeus. In this compact story we can learn many important components of a mature Christian life.
Bartimaeus cries out to the Lord (prayer – insistent prayer) “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” And while some in the crowd try to silence him, others encourage him “Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you.”
We learn that life is difficult, despite our deep desire that it be otherwise. We also learn that we need to pray with passion for what we most need from the Lord. And, we learn not to overlook those on the margins, but rather to include and assist them, for together we go to Christ.
This latter point is often overlooked in our faith journey, and I was reminded of a teaching from Pope Francis in his recent Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti – On Fraternity and Social Friendship:
In today’s world, the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading … Isolation and withdrawal into one’s own interests are never the way to restore hope and bring about renewal. Rather, it is closeness; it is the culture of encounter. (#30)
Once more we realize that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together. (#31)
Finally, Jesus restores sight to Bartimaeus, not just because he prayed for this gift, but because he had the faith that Jesus could do this for him!
Congratulations, Fr. Frank! And to everyone else, let us continue to live our faith! Together, let us go to Christ! Together, let us recognize those on the margins and bring them into the one family of God.