Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Perhaps most of us are not aware of it, but when we’re reminded, I’m sure many of us will remember this date 50 years ago, 1962, Oct. 28. It was the end of 13 days of crisis where people in this country were terrified, and all over the world people were dismayed and upset because of what we have come to call the Cuban Missile Crisis. I’m sure some of you remember those 13 days. The Soviet Union had put missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from our border, and they were missiles that had nuclear warheads. And we had discovered them and demanded they be removed, but instead, the Soviet government set forth some battleships with more warheads. It was a direct threat against us, and President [John F.] Kennedy established a blockade in the Pacific Ocean and indicated if the ships crossed that latitudinal line, we would go to war. Of course, it would be a nuclear war.

Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later on said, and he put his fingers this close together, “We were that close to an all-out nuclear war.” It almost happened. I think we should listen to today’s scriptures in light of that event. As I mentioned regarding the first lesson today (and I think it’s quite dramatic in a sense), Jeremiah had been preaching for 50 years to the chosen people not to prepare militarily, not to prepare for war. “God will bring you to fullness of peace and life without war. Trust in God, follow the way of God.” The people at that time refused to listen. So they went to war; their nation was invaded the temple was destroyed; most of the people were carried off into exile that lasted for decades — a long, long time of suffering because they refused to listen to the prophet speaking for God.

Today’s Gospel gives us a dramatic example of someone who was willing to follow the way of Jesus. This man, Bartimaeus — blind, a beggar, homeless, poor — when he hears that Jesus is passing by, he cries out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” He’s looking for healing. But as the incident unfolds, it becomes clear that this physical healing, being able to see with his eyes, is only a symbol of what was really happening. He was recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, son of the Living God, like Peter had done some weeks before on the journey where Jesus had asked, “Who do people say I am?” and so on. Do you remember that? Peter said, “You are the Christ, son of the Living God.” It was then for the first time that Jesus made the prediction about himself: “We’re going up to Jerusalem. There, the Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies. He’ll be tortured, humiliated and executed. Then on the third day, he’ll rise again.”…

To read this entire article, click here.

Leave a Reply