PASTORAL SERMON

The Fourteenth Sunday of Luke
By V. Rev. Timothy Baclig
December 2, 2018

Today’s Gospel lesson of the healing of blind Bartimaeus is a good
example of what it means to earnestly, persistently, and eagerly seek God.
Commenting on the healing of the blind beggar, St. John Chrysostom writes:


Therefore learn, my beloved, that though we {are very
vile} may be an outcast, but yet approach God with
earnestness, even by ourselves, we shall be able to bring
about whatever we ask . . . Though God may delay the
gift, though there may be many who seek to hold us back,
let us not desist from asking. For in this way most of all
we shall win God to our side. (Homily 66 on Matthew)

This is quite a radical statement for a Father of the Church. It almost
gives you the impression that we can, in fact, influence God. Most of us tend
to think that our Christian response to whatever situation we find ourselves is
to be passive, and more accepting of whatever we face. But God never said,
or desires that we should be miserable, unhappy, especially to the degree that
we end up becoming resentful, bitter, full of anger and malice. Other Church
Fathers point out that although Bartimaeus was physically blind, the eyes of
his soul were illumined by God’s grace because he had believed what he had
heard from others about Jesus. The saints also speak of blind Bartimaeus as
an example of earnest and humble prayer. Every time we come to Christ in
prayer, they say, we should come to Him as blind beggars and cry out to Him
to receive new light day by day.

All too often, while we may know what we want for ourselves, we may
not always know what is best for us. The Holy Apostle Paul spoke of this in
his letter to the Corinthians when he said: Everything is permissible for me
but not everything is beneficial. (I Corinthians 6:12). We make personal
choices each and every day of our lives. We also teach our children the
importance of making good choices, to have good judgment, and to be
responsible for their decisions. However, as much as we try, some things are
not easily learned except by experience and at times, making mistakes. Yet
some things can in fact be avoided, especially when one practices good
common sense.

With this in mind: petitioning God and asking Him to grant us our
request may mean that we might need to be prepared to receive what we may
not even know we are asking for. From time to time, for example, people ask
me to pray that they learn patience. Well then, I must ask, are you prepared
to grow in learning patience? Do you realize what being patient requires you
to do? Or better yet, how does having patience help you to know God better,
or draw nearer to Him? It’s almost as though we expect God to do it all while
we remain uninvolved with no responsibility to accept.

And so, petitioning and asking God to grant us our request may also
mean that we may also need to be prepared to know what we must also do.
Pray for peace, we say. However, praying for peace may also mean that we
must be militarily strong. On the other hand, praying for peace may also
mean, perhaps, being more aggressive in our commitment to negotiating.

When asking God for something or petitioning Him with a personal
request it also helps to remember that we are called as God’s children to
respond to others as we expect God to hear and respond to us. This pattern
was established by our Lord Himself when He taught us to pray: Forgive us
our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us… (Matthew 6:13)

Do we consider those who offend and sin against us when we call upon
God’s forgiveness? Do we ever perceive how we might act in a way that we
become a stumbling block for someone, and yet expect God to keep us free
from all temptation? Are we active in ways to help others who face perils
and misfortune, as we expect God to defend and protect us from all evil.

Prayer

O Christ, our God, Who in all times and places are worshipped and
glorified, both in heaven and on earth, long-suffering, generous in mercy and
rich in compassion, Who loves the righteous and is merciful to the sinner,
Who calls all to repentance through the promise of blessings to come:
Receive, O Lord, at this very hour our prayers and direct our lives according
to Your commandments. Sanctify our souls, purify our bodies, set our minds
aright, cleanse our thoughts, and deliver us from affliction and distress.
Surround us with Your holy angels, so that guided and guarded by them, we
may attain to the oneness of the Faith and to the knowledge of Your glory, O
Thou Who art blessed unto ages of ages. A-men. [a prayer of Compline]