Mk 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Being Missionaries of Compassion

I am embarrassed to admit it, but my default reaction when passing a homeless person begging on the streets is to ignore them. If they call out asking for help, I’ll simply bury myself in my phone, or act distracted looking away.

And, heck, it’s not just my response to a person experiencing homelessness. If I have a missed call or text from someone asking me for a favor, I’ll often find myself dragging my feet to respond, especially if it requires some extra effort on my part. Have you ever found yourself doing the same?

“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!” The blind man Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus over and over again in today’s Gospel. The disciples of Jesus don’t ignore him (which might have been my strategy). Instead, perhaps even worse, they scold him and tell him to cut it out. Unrelenting, Bartimaeus only continues to yell all the more.

When his cries reach Jesus’s ears, he has a completely different response. He stops in his place. He calls for the man. He asks him what he needs. And he grants him his request.

Today the church celebrates World Mission Sunday. In his message for today, Pope Francis underscores the urgent need for a mission of compassion, especially in the midst of the pandemic.

Can we respond to that call? Can we be missionaries of compassion in our everyday lives? Rather than ignore or rebuke another, can we follow Jesus’s example to stop, notice, ask, and respond when we encounter someone in need? Let that be our mission.

—Fr. Brian Strassburger, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He was ordained this summer and is helping to meet pastoral needs in the Rio Grande Valley on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Prayer

Prayer for World Mission Sunday 2021

O God, Author of all Creation,
the Apostles and first Christians declared,
“We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)
May this be a summons to each of us,
As we bring to others what we bear in our hearts.

We recall with gratitude all those men and women who,
by their testimony of life,
have helped to inspire us in our baptismal commitment
to be generous and joyful apostles of the Gospel.
We recall especially all those who resolutely set out,
leaving home and family behind,
to bring the Gospel to all those places and people athirst for its saving message.

Contemplating their missionary witness,
inspire us to be courageous in our own lives of faith,
growing in our openness to embrace everyone, everywhere.

May we as the Church continue to carry out the mission of evangelization.
May we go forth to the peripheries of our world as messengers and agents of compassion.
May we approach the world as Christ does,
believing with him that those around us are also our brothers and sisters.
And may Christ’s compassionate love touch our hearts and make us all true missionary disciples.

Amen.

—Adapted from Pope Francis’s Message for World Mission Sunday 2021