Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jesus is the way!

The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Mark 10: 46-52

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with the disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus ben-Timaeus, was sitting at the side of the road: When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!" Many people rebuked him, telling him to be quiet,but he shouted all the louder. "Son of David, have pity on me." Jesus stopped and said, "Call him here." So they called the blind man, "Don't be afraid," they said. "Get up, Jesus is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus said, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Master, I want to see." Jesus replied, "Go, your faith has saved you." Immediately Bartimaeus received the gift of sight and began to follow Jesus on the way.

Today we continue to read from the Gospel according to Mark.

The Bible writers don’t usually name the people that are cured, so probably in this case, Bartimaeus was someone that was known by the readers of Mark’s Gospel, perhaps a member of the community there. In Mark’s usual way of sandwiching things, this ending section of the central section of Mark’s Gospel balances the cure of a blind man with the cure of another blind man which started this section. This blind man now recognizes Jesus as “Son of David” which is Mark’s term and which would be understood by his readers as another term for Messiah.

The major difference here may be the fact that the Gospel ends with “immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” The “way” was a very early name the followers of Jesus gave to what came to be called Christianity. It probably is related to John’s “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. But the “way” is a wonderful expression to describe what Jesus was providing for us. He was pointing the way to salvation and the way becomes a path to the actual fact of salvation through his suffering and death. This points the way to the next section of Mark’s Gospel which is what Mark has been having Jesus prepare the disciples for: the Passion and Death.

Could Mark be saying that the Christian on the ‘way’ is blind unless we follow Jesus in the path of suffering. The whole point of Jesus’ work was not the healings and the miracles, but the path to resurrection through suffering and death. How are we following this straight path, this ‘way’, this map that Jesus has given us. When Jesus tells Bartimaeus that his faith has saved him, it is because Bartimaeus didn’t just run off and enjoy his newfound sight, but understood that Jesus was giving him more than physical sight. He was giving him something eternal, something which would last, and so he wanted to follow Jesus.

That is why our first reading today is so joyful. Usually when we read Jeremiah, it is filled with guilt for the Jews – and us – failing to listen to God and accepting a needed repentance. But this is a Jeremiah who can, like Bartimaeus see the end of the Way: God is bringing his people back from captivity, from their blindness. Everyone, Jeremiah says, will return and God is claiming them all: I am going to gather them from the farthest parts of the earth of the world, among them those who are blind and those who are lame, those with child and those in labor, together… I will lead them back… in a straight path!” The straight path, the “Way” is Christ, who like the Jews in captivity departed in tears and suffering, but at the end of the road or the way there will be “brooks of water” – the baptism of our salvation.

And who is this person that is the Son of David, the Messiah? We learn more about that in the second Reading today when Paul describes Jesus as the High priest. A high priest for the Jews was an hereditary office and the high priest was CEO of the other priests. He was the one allowed to go into the Holy of Holies, the place where God dwelled on earth, and his anointing was different from other priests as was his clothing. Paul shows how Jesus was the High Priest, the one who offered sacrifice for us all in three ways- he was appointed by God, he was selected for sacrificing for us, and he is able to deal patiently with the lowest in society- like the blind man Bartimaeus.

Jesus then is seen as the one who will lead us on the way, out of the sinfulness of men to a new kingdom – where love will prevail. So Does Jesus have the ability to see deeper into the blind man’s needs? And what does Jesus mean by the word “faith” which he says ‘saved’ the blind man?

Jesus knew that bodily healing was not enough, that men and women needed a spiritual healing as well, and that was his purpose or goal in his suffering and death. So yes, Jesus knew that Bartimaeus wanted more than physical sight. We also know that because Bartimaeus followed Jesus, probably remaining part of Mark’s community in Cyprus or Rome, he must have had great faith in Jesus both as a healer and as a messiah. Faith in this story is the ability of one to see, and Mark is using both the physical and spiritual sense of it here.

Do we really see what has happened here? Do we really have the sight of faith that will allow us to follow Jesus’ way of suffering, death and resurrection? Let us pray the we too will have the sight of Bartimaeus which goes beyond the physical sight, and be able to live our lives in such a way that we use our sufferings and misfortunes, our successes and failures as a Way to God.

St. Valentine Faith Community
Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2670 Chandler Avenue
Suite 7 & 8
Las Vegas, NV 89120
Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

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