30th Sunday - Homily
A few years ago, a local parish was starting a men’s prayer group. The priest who was in charge of the group called me to see if I would give a talk on chastity at the group’s first meeting. I said, “ok, sure. What time will the group meet?” He said, “Saturday morning, 7:30.” “7:30…a.m.?” I said…”ok, I’ll do it”. So, as I’m driving up to the meeting, I saw about 50 cars parked outside. I was thinking to myself, ‘what other events are going on this early on a Saturday morning? Surely, this isn’t all for the men’s prayer group (the priest was expecting 5 or 6 guys).’ 75 men showed up! There were guys there of all ages; the place was packed. It was great! So, I gave a very direct and honest talk about chastity (sexual purity), speaking in very concrete terms. One of the things that I addressed was pornography.
This week is Pornography Awareness Week. Pornography is a big problem. The pornography industry is huge. Modern technology adds to the problem, as pornographic images can be viewed easily and regularly on the internet, and now on cell phones. Pornography is very prevalent, especially among men, but also among women and teens. It is a poison to marriages and families. One of the main reasons it is wrong is that the pornographer uses persons as objects of his desire only. It is a very selfish habit. It can quickly become an addiction that can be very hard to get out of. It might seem to the pornographer that there is no help in sight; but, there is.
One of the men at that prayer group was struggling with this and other sins against chastity. He has said that his jaw was on the floor while I gave my talk that day because he was so surprised to hear how wrong all of that stuff is, and how many guys struggle with it. He thought he was the only one! Well, he has come to Christ with his struggles. He has come to receive God’s Grace much more regularly in the past few years, mainly the Grace of the Eucharist and Confession. He has had a huge conversion of heart! With God’s help, he is living purity and chastity so much more faithfully now. He has fallen in love with his beautiful wife all over again, and is so much more committed to his kids and the Church. He is now living as a man of love, not a man of lust.
Christ has the power to heal! In today’s Gospel, the blind man, Bartimaeus, is brought to Jesus. Everyone there knows why he is brought to our Lord. The Lord knows why. And yet, he still asks Bartimaeus, “what do you want me to do for you?” Why does he say this? Well, he is saying to Bartimaeus and each one of us, ‘talk to me. Tell me what you want. Tell me what you need. Tell me what your wounds are. Tell me those things of which you need to be healed’. It is an invitation to prayer. It is an invitation to be honest with our God, and take our needs to Him. He wants us to come to Him with our problems, our sins, our wounds. He alone can heal us of all that afflicts us.
Bartimaeus says in reply to Christ’s question, “I want to see”. We should tell the Lord what we need. As we approach the Eucharist today, let us hear Christ speaking to each of our hearts. As we receive Jesus into our bodies and souls in Holy Communion, we hear him say to us, “what do you want me to do for you?”