October 24, 2021 This homily is posted here by not delivered in person as I am in Oklahoma City this weekend.
Jeremiah 31, 7-9 + Psalm 126 + Hebrews 5, 1-6 + Mark 10, 46-52
This is the final miracle of Mark’s Gospel, and the consequence is a profound act of faith. In front of the disciples and the crowd, Bartimaeus pronounced his creed. This man, blind from birth, may not have sight, but he can see alright. He can see what those disciples have been blind to. He can see the “Son of David”, the shepherd King that prophets spoke of. He can see how to get free from everything that holds him back. He is not really the blind man. We are.
We have an odd way of using that word, “see.” We often use it to express understanding as when someone might say: “I see what you mean.” All four of the evangelists use sight as a way of expressing faith. Believing is the deepest kind of seeing. Our early church even called Baptism “Enlightenment”. We could learn something from Bartimaeus because our blindness.
The blindness most of us suffer from is not physical although it is sometimes selective. We don’t see homeless people with a cardboard sign at street intersections. If we do, we pretend we don’t We don’t see the homeless because most of us live in gated communities, and if they crowd around our boarders, we expect someone to do something about it like the crowd trying to silence Bartimaeus. However, Jesus sees, and Jesus calls the man to a new kind of sight that frees him from his past as he leaves that cloak behind. There is a tenderness and respect in the way Jesus speaks to this man that is far different from the way the crowd treats him. Even the disciples change their tone after the call of Jesus. They no longer want to silence him, but they encourage him and say, “Get, Jesus is calling you.” They may very well have taken him by the hand and led him to Jesus.
There is something unique in this miracle story. In nearly every other cure, Jesus goes to the sick. Here however, Jesus simply stops, and he calls the man from a distance to come. Think for a moment how difficult that may have been. Bartimaeus was blind. He might have said: “Come and help me, I can’t find my way.” He didn’t do that. He got up, threw off his cloak and went to Jesus. He probably stumbled along the way and maybe even fell down all the while just guessing where Jesus was. That was enough. He got there. He was given his sight, and he kept on moving right along with Jesus says Mark.
As we proclaim this Gospel today, we must find out place in this Gospel story. As members of Christ’s body, we can call those who are blind searching for forgiveness or healing to come with us, and we can open their eyes to see the Lord within us. As members of the crowd, we can simply tell the needy to keep quiet and stay where they are. As Disciples, we can encourage those blind to faith, and we might well lead them to Jesus. Or, it may be that some of us are blind, but knowing that the Lord is near we keep calling out, “Lord, have mercy”, and one day get up with joy and follow the Lord straight to the Jerusalem of his glory.