Are we too impatient to hear God’s call?

Tim Irwin

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time/Oct. 28

Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126:1-2,2-3,4-5,6; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

We Americans are an impatient people. We want what we want and we want it now — instant gratification. I typed “instant gratification” into a browser and got 14,600,000 hits in four-tenths of a second. I wonder why it took so long?

In some cases, one must pay to satisfy the pangs of instant gratification. I bought some golf balls online. The menu of possible shipping options appeared. It ranged from $9 to $30 and I fretted over how instantly I wanted this gratification.

This week’s readings challenge us to fret less and be patient in our relationship with God. The first reading from Jeremiah implores the Children of Israel to endure despite their struggles. The Prophet says, “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.”

Like the Israelites, we should stop fretting and pray to be delivered from the struggles we face. In time we will be blessed, but we must be patient until our time comes.

The second reading from Hebrews illustrates how the wait ends: “Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God.” In other words, we don’t decide when the call comes or to what blessing we are called.

KEEP BELIEVING, PRAYING

The Gospel according to Mark presents Bartimaeus, a blind man desperate for relief from his disability and the resulting prejudice and poverty it caused him. He lives his life with virtually no immediate gratification. Realizing that Jesus is passing, Bartimaeus calls out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Some of the bystanders rebuke him. After all, Bartimaeus sits near the bottom of this society’s hierarchy.

In this age of instant gratification, believing, praying, and worshiping God through the Holy Sacraments might seem futile because we lack the patience we need until the fruitfulness of blessings are finally and fully realized.

Bartimaeus did not give up and accept his fate. Patience carried him this far; now without hesitation he acted. He kept calling, kept praying and just when all seemed lost, Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” The Lord restored Bartimaeus’ sight and now, finally he saw life in a new way.

Bartimaeus serves as a model for us. We will struggle in this life. Events may at times blind us and leave us feeling fretfully overwhelmed and lost. We may wish that in this moment Jesus stood as close to us as he stood to Bartimaeus on that fateful day. Wish as we might, we have no control over how and when God will bless us. We just have to keep believing, praying, and worshiping God through the Holy Sacraments.

PATIENCE REWARDED

In this age of instant gratification, believing, praying, and worshiping God through the Holy Sacraments might seem futile because we lack the patience we need until the fruitfulness of blessings are finally and fully realized.

All blessings from God arrive in the form of an invitation — we’re called. The cost of opting for instant gratification may include missing the call when it finally comes. Despite a mountain of reasons for despair, Bartimaeus never gave up. Quietly, prayerfully, he waited. Had he given up, perhaps he would not have realized that it was Jesus passing by. He would have lost out on the blessing to which God eventually called him.

This week at the Holy Mass let’s strive to set aside all of the fretfulness caused by our desire for instant gratification. May we cultivate patience and in time experience the blessings to which we are called. May we hear the Lord say to us as he said to Bartimaeus, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

Tim Irwin teaches theology and philosophy at Notre Dame High School in Peoria. He is a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton.

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