What Really Matters
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Be careful of what you wish for. It is a running theme in many folklores. There is the well-known story of rich Midas who was not contented with his wealth and wished that everything he touched would be turned to gold. His wish came true. Everything he touched turned to gold – including his daughter. There is of course the genie from the lamp stories, where the powerfull genie fulfills three wishes for the owner of the lamp. If one is greedy or not careful, the wishes may lead to his destruction.

Last Sunday we read of the wishes of the two brothers, James and John. They wanted to be powerful and important figures in the Lord’s inner circle. Jesus made use of the occasion to teach them about humility and service. The gospel this Sunday tells the story of the blind man, Bartimaeus. We hear of another request. He recognized Jesus as the messiah and he called out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me” (Mk. 10:47). He knew what he wanted and he expressed it. He did not want wealth or power. He wanted to see. The Lord granted his request upon seeing his humility and strong faith.

James and John asked with a wrong attitude and they were reprimanded. Bartimaeus asked with the right attitude and his prayer was answered. The Lord who sees into our heart knows what will benefit us or destroy us.

This story of Bartimaeus is a good starting point for our reflections about what really matters in life. As the recent floods in the country reminded us, our priorities become re-organized in the light of life and death situations. Protecting and saving our loved ones are more important than saving our things. Food and water are more important than appliances. Some objects are more important than others for their sentimental or practical value.

Given the hypothetical situation of an inevitable catastrophe, we would be forced to put our priorities in proper order. We would also be praying fot the safety and protection of those who are most important to us. There are images that remain fresh in my memory of a group of people hurrying to escape from their barrio that has become a war zone two years ago. The video camera recorded images of mothers holding on to their crying babies, fathers hurriedly putting their meager belongings on the back of their farm animals, and children bringing along whatever they could carry. A picture that especially stuck me was of a crying boy carrying his precious slippers in one hand while holding on to a chicken with the other hand.

We do not need calamities and catastrophes to motivate us to put our sense of values in order. We can ask ourselves now about what really matters in our life. Like Bartimaeus, we can pray for that which we really need and is really important.

In Jesus’ hierarchy of values, people are more important than things. The poor and the lowly are just as important as the rich and the privileged. Service is more important than dominance. Life is important because he came to give life in its fullness. However, even one’s life may be offered for the sake of saving others, for no greater love is there than for one to lay down his life for his friends. One’s sense of integrity is important, for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul. To please God is more important than to please the public.

Actually what is really important boils down to the two commandments - to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.