Proper 25 B, Oct. 25, 2015
The Church of the Good Shepherd, Pawtucket, RI
The Rev. Gillian R. Barr
This morning’s Gospel lesson is about someone blind receiving sight. Who in the story is blind? On the surface, that’s a really easy question. The beggar by the side of the road. We even know his name, which we don’t usually for people healed by Jesus. Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.
But is he really blind? He seems to actually see quite well. He calls out to Jesus, calling him Son of David—giving him a title usually reserved for the Messiah. Over the past few weeks we’ve heard several stories about Jesus’s disciples and followers just not getting it and basically being blockheads—James and John bickering to see who is the most important, other disciples turning children away, Peter denying what Jesus says about the Messiah’s future including suffering and death. But this beggar by the side of the road understands who Jesus is. He calls him by a Messianic title, and he also insists that God’s vision, God’s healing, includes those on the margins, people like a blind beggar. He sees with God’s vision. He understands that when God looks at him, God sees someone worthy. He claims that he, even though blind, is someone worthy of Jesus’s “mercifying,” as one commentator suggests the Greek actually reads.
The people in the crowd, however, don’t get it. They don’t see Bartimaeus as a human being worthy of healing. They see only a distraction, someone in their way. Someone taking Jesus’ attention away from them and their focus on getting to the next place on their itinerary. They are looking at the man’s demands with a zero-sum mentality. They tell him to be quiet.
But we know better, right? We wouldn’t do that. We wouldn’t ever tell someone asking for Jesus’ mercy, someone seeking healing and wholeness, to be quiet, would we?
Or would we? Continue reading