Rv 1:1-4; 2:1-5; Ps 1:1-6; Lk 18:35-43
In our day we rarely hear anything virtuous about the royal families that have survived history with all its revolutions. Yet, one can see in Saint Margaret of Scotland the dignity of heroic virtue and the true revolution of the holy gospel. She was originally from Hungary, and she was raised in the best traditions of a royal Catholic family. Her beauty and grace attracted the rough hone King Malcolm of Scotland. Together they witnessed the power and beauty of life in Christ. Queen Margaret struggled with many weaknesses in the church of her day both among the laity and clergy. Her prayer life was strong and life-giving for her, the royal family, and her adopted country. History reports that she never sat down to join her family at table without first feeding nine orphans and twenty-four adults. Saint Margaret and her family lived in faithful response to the word of the Lord. By their exemplary lifestyle they proclaimed the glory of God, and even to our own day, their voice resounds and to the ends of the world, their message. The witness of all the saints confronts the foolishness of those who seek beauty and power in this world without seeking The Source of all beauty and power. True wisdom enables such a search to bear fruit, a fruit that will last through centuries of violence and foolishness.
All the saints were like trees planted near running water. It was the refreshing water of the Holy Spirit that moved them to deep compassion in Christ through out a life of profound prayer and loving service. Some of these saints could have had the life of luxury, but they did not follow the counsel of the wicked. They did not become bitter at misfortune rather they gave themselves even more to the Lord Jesus and they grew in virtue. Their true delight was in the law of the LORD, and they meditated on God’s word day and night. Indeed, they became the fruitful trees whose leaves never fade. The poor and neglected were fed at this tree of life. These saints did not fall from their first love, and their lamps stand still shines brightly in the courts of the Blessed Lord. With all the saints in glory, we have come to this liturgy that we might learn how to pray from the cries of the blind man on the road to Jericho, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
This last book of the Bible is read aloud to bless the reader and those who listen during the last days of the liturgical year. In two weeks we will begin another Advent and another liturgical year. This is a blessed time to reflect upon our call to holiness in Christ Jesus who greets us with grace and peace. The Church in Ephesus is praised for its generosity and sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. These believers have grown strong in their endurance and have not tolerated the wicked. Indeed, they have tested the false apostles and found them lacking in truth. This lack of tolerance for sin would not make them popular back then; our lack of tolerance for sin and vice makes us unpopular even today. As one of the unpopular preachers today teaches, “I love all of you, but I will not let you lead me into hell.” Each of us is called to a prophetic lifestyle and witness. We are to love sinners while hating sin. We cannot just stand by and not challenge our brothers and sisters to turn from sin and grow in virtue. Such a radical Christianity is not popular in our world that allows religion to have a private place in human life. Our tolerant society has no tolerance for the challenge of Christ. When we live out of our first love, we become unpopular. We are labeled intolerant and even radical, meaning dangerous. By growing in love of Christ, our first love, we learn how to love sinners. In loving sinners we want what is best for them; we want them to enjoy the abundant life promised by the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Anything less, anything more tolerant, is not love. In these final weeks of the liturgical year the Word of God summons us to repent of our lack of love for Christ and all for whom he came to suffer and die.
The blind man on the road to Jericho had heard the stories of the Lord Jesus and knew in his heart that this healer and preacher would show him compassion. His faith in the Lord Jesus is revealed in his prayerful cry, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” This poor and powerless man could see what the crowd could not see. They saw themselves as doing the Lord Jesus a favor by trying to keep this man from interrupting his journey to Jericho and beyond. Jericho was the city that was blind to the coming of God’s People; they choose to oppose the LORD and his holy people from their conquering journey. Their blindness became the source of their fall. The walls of resistance came tumbling down before the triumphant armies of Joshua. Only the harlot, Rahab, had eyes of faith to see and an honest heart to recognize the movement of God in history. The crowds inherited the blindness of the city Jericho; the bind man inherited the faith of Rahab, the ancestor of David. The Lord Jesus, the faithful Son of David, praises the faith of the blind man. Indeed, his faith has saved him and given sight to countless generations of believers who follow the Lord through Jericho and onto Jerusalem. In this city of destiny the Lord Jesus will encounter the blind crowds and the sightless leaders. Outside the wall of the City of David, the Lord Jesus will cry out from his cross, “Father forgive them; they are blind!” Still, we are blind. Still we have fallen from our first love. Still we need the compassion of the saints near and far. Still we need to learn how to cry out in our blindness, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”