Thursday, 30 May 2024. Readings: 1 Peter 2:2-5,9-12, Ps. 100:2-5, Mark 10:46-52

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

There is a great quote from Joan Borysenko which goes thus: “This is not a telephone answering machine, but a questioning machine. Who are you, and what do you want? If you think these are trivial questions, be aware that most people come into this world and leave it without answering either one!” Have you ever been asked, “Who are you?” You probably responded by mentioning your name, job description, and relationship with someone. These are wrong answers; we are way more than these labels. Knowing who you are is like finding a map when you are lost in a maze; it is getting to see again after many years of blindness – life suddenly takes on a new level of meaning. This brings us to our lessons today: 

1. Newborn Babies: A few days ago, we heard Jesus say: “Let the children come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of God; whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15). In today’s first reading, St. Peter says: “Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” (1 Peter 2:2-3). What is this “pure spiritual milk”? It is the word of God: “Man shall not live on bread alone but on everything that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4). Regardless of your age or achievements, remember you are an infant; have a childlike attitude towards God. In today’s Gospel passage, we see how Bartimaeus successfully received his eyesight because he approached Jesus like a child who did not stop begging until he got the needed attention. It is not in our place to issue commands to God.

2. Living Stones: St. Peter continues: “Like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.” (1 Peter 2:5). The term ‘church’ refers to a building made of stones; it also refers to people who believe in God and model their lives according to God’s Word. Just as it is easy to identify a church in a street or neighbourhood, St. Peter wants us to stand out wherever we go. People feel Christ in you. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15). Also, as living stones, we are of different shapes and sizes (different gifts), but together, we make a single building; we need each other because we are one house. What becomes of a building when the bricks begin to fight themselves?

3. A Royal Priesthood: St. Peter emphasises our call to holiness by describing us as priests. As priests, we are a chosen race. That is, we are set apart and different from the rest of the world. Jesus emphasised this point when He said: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but you are not of the world. I chose you out of the world (John 15:19). We  have been “called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light.” As aliens and exiles, we must therefore, “abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against our soul.” (1 Peter 2:9-11). St. Paul further drives home the message when he says: “If then you have been raised with Christ … put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:1-5)

4. When You Know Who You Are, You Will Know What You Want: Bartimaeus was called a beggar because he depended on alms for survival, but Bartimaeus knew he was not born to be a beggar. This was what fired him up to get Jesus' attention. When Jesus called Bartimaeus, Jesus asked him a very important question: “What do you want me to do for you?” This is the point most of us answer wrongly because we don’t know who we are. Bartimaeus could have asked for money, cars, houses, and so on, but he only asked for his sight. Let us pray that God may open our eyes to see who we are and what truly matters.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, grant that I may never lose touch with my Christian identity. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God's abundant blessings be upon us all. (Thursday of week 8 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1 Peter 2:2-5, 9- 12, Ps. 100:2-5, Mark 10:46-52).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu