Sunday, October 28, 2018

Tune Out the World; Tune In to Jesus; Tune Up Your Faith!

Thirtieth Sunday of the Year (B): This homily was given on October 28, 2018 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126:1-6; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10: 46-52.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Thirtieth Sunday 2018]

 Tune out the world; tune in to Jesus; tune up your faith.

I heard that advice at a prayer meeting once, and I never forgot it.  I never forgot it because it happens to be excellent advice, especially in this age of social media.

And here our great role model is Bartimaeus, the blind man who was healed by Jesus in today’s gospel story from Mark 10.  Notice what the last line of the text says.  It says that, after his healing, Bartimaeus “followed Jesus on the road”.  That means he became a disciple of Christ.  (The word “disciple” literally means “one who follows,” especially “one who follows for the purpose of learning.”)

Now Bartimaeus already had some faith in Jesus before he met him that day in Jericho.  That’s clear from how he addresses our Lord when he calls out to him from the side of the road.  He says, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.”
“Son of David” was a messianic title, which means that Bartimaeus already either believed—or at least strongly suspected—that our Lord was the Messiah.

But that initial faith he had in Jesus increased exponentially after he received his healing!—so much so that he began to follow our Lord as one of his disciples.

Clearly, Bartimaeus’ faith was “tuned up” in and through his personal encounter with Jesus—but that’s only because he made two crucial decisions before the encounter: the decision to “tune out the world,” and the decision to “tune in to the Lord.”

Tuning out the world, for Bartimaeus, primarily involved tuning out the dissenting voices of the many people in the crowd that day who were trying to get him to shut his mouth and stop crying out to Jesus.  As the text says, “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.”

Bartimaeus tuned out those voices; he totally disregarded them; he completely ignored them—and, as the passage tells us, “He kept calling out all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’”

He responded to the rebukes by tuning in to our Lord even more passionately and intently!

Bartimaeus tuned out the world; he tuned in to Jesus—in spite of what the people around him were saying; and by the end of it all he had tuned up his faith—a lot!

If we want our faith to be similarly “tuned up” by God and his grace, we have to follow Bartimaeus’ example here.

First of all, we have to tune out the world—or at least our little corner of it.  Practically speaking, that involves (among other things) taking a break from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—and any other social media service we happen to be into.  It involves listening to voices that are going to build up our faith and not tear it down or undermine it.  That means we definitely will need to limit our exposure to the voices of people in the mainstream media—the pundits, the politicians, the actors, the musicians and all the rest.  Overexposure to these voices is, without question, toxic to a person’s spiritual life.  (I say that as one who has, at times, watched way too much cable news.  Way too much!  All it did was get me aggravated!  It definitely did not bring me closer to God!)

And we need to have a period of time EVERY DAY when we consciously do this, when we consciously and intentionally tune out the world.  And I do mean every day—not just once a week, or once in a while.

And we should spend that time (which I would say should be at least a half hour) “tuning in to Jesus” in some way: by simply calling out to him, as Bartimaeus did; by reading Scripture; by saying the Rosary; by visiting the adoration chapel at Immaculate; by coming to daily Mass—in other words, by doing something (or some things) that will bring us into personal contact with the Lord.

Aside from our family responsibilities, that should be our top priority every day: to tune in to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, in some fashion!

Who knows?—we might even experience a healing like Bartimaeus did!

But one thing is nearly certain: If we make the effort—the serious effort—to tune out the world and to tune in to the Lord every single day of our lives, we will grow stronger in our faith.  It may not happen instantaneously, but over time it will.

And that will make us good disciples—like Bartimaeus.