First Reading
Jeremiah 31:7-9

Thus says the Lord: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng. They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.

Second Reading
Hebrews 5:1-6

Brothers and sisters: Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: You are my son: this day I have begotten you; just as he says in another place: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. 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.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

The Lord has delivered His people! That means that you are I are delivered—but from what? We hear in the first reading, from the Prophet Jeremiah, that God brings back Israel from exile. God brings home not only those who are full of life and energy, but also the blind and the lame and the pregnant mothers—great symbols of vulnerable people. God brings these people from their exile and takes such good care of them. God promises to make sure they have water and do not stumble and He Himself will guide them.

These words are truly consoling. Yet our human hearts cry out with other questions: why did you let the exile happen? Why did you allow that person to become blind or lame to begin with? And we think of the thousands of other sad and difficult situations that we know of today: who do you let people get divorced? Why do you let what begins as a good marriage turn to disaster? Why do terrible accidents happen and leave people maimed? Why do you let good friends become enemies? Why do you allow young children to be in the armies of poor countries? Why do you allow hearts to become deformed to the point of killing others? How can you let young people become suicide bombers? Why do you let this or that person become alcoholic or a drug addict?

These types of situations are the exiles of our own day! We are not longer taken taken captive physically as a community and deported by armies. Rather, we stay right where we are and are destroyed as a people and as a community.

Is there any answer to why these things happen and how God is involved? If there is, most of us do not have it. We are left with a belief in God but a lack of understanding of how God is at work in the world. And many people even cease to believe. One thing that we can be sure of is this: no concept of God which makes God a monster is worthy of our belief. Many people have been raised with guilt and with a belief that God punishes them for their sins.

As we meditate on today’s readings, each of us needs to look into his or her own heart and ask what we think of God. Do we believe in a God who saves or do we believe in a God who punishes? Our ancestors struggled with this same problem and Jesus, true God of true God and unique Son of God, comes as the final answer: God loves and pardons and comes to save the world from sin and its consequences.

Yet we must become like Bartimaeus in the Gospel: Jesus, I want to see. It is only when we set out on the journey and begin to ask Jesus to see that we can expect to be given spiritual understanding and insight. We must ask with all the energy of our hearts. We must wait on the Lord. The true meaning of this life is this spiritual journey. We cannot expect a textbook to be given to us. We are given a guide: the Church. And we are given a savior in Jesus Christ. Let us begin to walk in the Spirit and follow Jesus on the way.