It was the early 1960s and the archbishop was visiting his parishes. The parish council would select one member of the parish to host him for breakfast after Mass.
The choice fell on Mr Mushore and in the course of conversation the archbishop told him he was trying to encourage multiracial education in Church schools and would he be prepared to send his children to what was then a school predominantly for whites. Mr Mushore, recognising this was an opening for his children to have many opportunities out of reach in the local school to which they were destined, readily agreed.
The result was that the two children, a boy and a girl, received an education which fast tracked them into careers that up to then were matters for dreams. Leaving aside for a moment the inequality of the system that then pertained, the point here is simply that Mr Mushore grasped a moment that might never come again. His choice instantly changed the life of his children and allowed them entrance to a way of life that would have a ripple effect on their families and on the community.
Blind Bartimaeus was stuck in his drab routine of sitting daily by the wayside until, one day, a large crowd of people passed by seemingly following some renowned person. Curious, he asked who it was and, being told, he began to cry out for help. The people were annoyed at him causing a disturbance and told him to be quiet. But that only spurred him on and he cried out even louder. He got what he wanted and, we’re told, ‘followed Jesus along the road.’ The story ends there but it is not hard to imagine what must have happened later.
They say, ‘learning never ends’, but we can get stuck in a way of thinking that says, ‘there is nothing I can do’. Bartimaeus must have often thought so as he sat by the road. But he did not give in to that thought. He was alert and ready when opportunity came by and he instantly grabbed it. People told him to accept his situation. It was hopeless. But he refused. He ‘threw off his cloak and jumped up and went to Jesus.’
We do not need to say more, except perhaps to remind ourselves that things do not have to be the way they are. We can get so stuck and maybe discouraged. But there is always something we can do. That is the beauty of being a human being. We can always grasp the moment. We are getting towards Christmas, or more specifically Advent, and our readings for the next month are going to hammer us in different ways with the simple message, ‘Be alert!’ Watch! The buck in the bush is alert for danger. We are to be alert for opportunity.
24 October 2021 Sunday 30B Jer 31:7-9 Heb 5:1-6 Mk 10:46-52