Sacred Scriptures/Liturgy- Commentary on Sunday's Readings
"Choses from and for men"
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap, Pontifical Household Preacher
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6;
The Gospel passage recounts the cure of the blind man of Jericho,
Bartimaeus is someone who does not miss an opportunity. He heard
that Jesus was passing by, understood that it was the opportunity of
his life and acted swiftly. The reaction of those present -- "and
many rebuked him, telling him to be silent" -- makes evident the
unadmitted pretension of the wealthy of all times: That misery
remain hidden, that it not show itself, that it not disturb the
sight and dreams of those who are well.
The term "blind" has been charged with so many negative meanings
that it is right to reserve it, as the tendency is today, to the
moral blindness of ignorance and insensitivity. Bartimaeus is not
blind; he is only sightless. He sees better with his heart than many
of those around him, because he has faith and cherishes hope. More
than that, it is this interior vision of faith which also helps him
to recover his external vision of things. "Your faith has made you
well," Jesus says to him.
I pause here in the explanation of the Gospel because I am anxious
to develop a topic present in this Sunday's second reading,
regarding the figure and role of the priest. It is said of a priest
first of all that he is "chosen from among men." He is not,
therefore, an uprooted being or fallen from heaven, but a human
being who has behind him a family and a history like everyone else.
"Chosen from among men" also means that the priest is made of the
same fabric as any other human creature: with the emotions,
struggles, doubts and weaknesses of everybody else. Scripture sees
in this a benefit for other men, not a motive for scandal. In this
way, in fact, the priest will be more ready to have compassion, as
he is also cloaked in weakness.
Chosen from among men, the priest is moreover "appointed to act on
behalf of men," that is, given back to them, placed at their service
-- a service that affects man's most profound dimension, his eternal
St. Paul summarizes the priestly ministry with a phrase: "This is
how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the
mysteries of God" (1 Corinthians 4:1). This does not mean that the
priest is indifferent to the needs -- including human -- of people,
but that he is also concerned with these with a spirit that is
different from that of sociologists and politicians. Often the
parish is the strongest point of aggregation, including social, in
the life of a country or district.
We have sketched the positive vision of the priest's figure. We know
that it is not always so. Every now and then the news reminds us
that another reality also exists, made of weakness and infidelity
--- of this reality the Church can do no more than ask forgiveness.
But there is a truth that must be recalled for a certain consolation
of the people. As man, the priest can err, but the gestures he
carries out as priest, at the altar or in the confessional, are not
invalid or ineffective because of it. The people are not deprived of
God's grace because of the unworthiness of the priest. It is Christ
who baptizes, celebrates, forgives; the priest is only the
I like to recall in this connection, the words uttered before dying
by the country priest of Georges Bernanos: "All is grace."
Even the misery of his alcoholism seems to him to be a grace,
because it has made him more merciful toward people. God is not that
concerned that his representatives on earth be perfect, but that
they be merciful.
[Translation by ZENIT]
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