The New Evangelization

Today’s gospel, taken from Mark, puts us at a pivotal point in Christ’s journey to Jerusalem – from Jericho He now climbs to Jerusalem.  He is climbing to His passion, to the salvific act for the human race.  We hear that from Jericho He now has multitudes following Him – those multitudes will shortly proclaim Him Messiah. – so said Pope Benedict this morning at the closing Mass of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.

As I was listening to those beginning words of the Holy Father’s Homily it also struck me that this mission, the mission of Christ’s saving action, the mission of His Mystical Body the Church, which has universal scope, is ultimately based on individual actions.  Bartimaeus the blind man, a no-body, really, in the eyes of society, sits beside the road begging, doing what he has to survive, living the only life he knows.  But when he heard of Jesus passing he calls out to Him, and unlike the apostles James and John (from last week’s Gospel reading) who asked Jesus for a prestigious place next to Him Bartimaeus asks “Master, I want to see.”  Bartimaeus asks nothing grandiose but simple; he wants to see – nothing else – he would take care of the rest of his life if only the Lord would grant him sight.  The Lord grants it.  The Lord’s loving action powerfully points out that His universal ministry is built on individual interaction with society’s “small ones”.

As I watched Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons and the Pope process out from the Vatican I though what a great lesson this Gospel is to everyone who follows Christ the Lord.  It should be our goal in life to act not like the crowd to Bartimeaus when “many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.”,only thinking of the big view of Christianity; but to respond as they did later when they said “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”  The New Evangelization is new only in its cultural and temporal contexts, but at its core it is the same as when Jesus healed Bartimeaus: loving concern for everyone, individually.  Jesus said exactly this when asked what the greatest commandment is

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

May the Lord guide our hearts to live this great commandment and evangelize everyone who comes across our paths.

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