HOMILY & IDEAS

Jer 31: 7-9; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots.

They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,

Jesus is on the home stretch to where he will celebrate the Passover -- in the city of Jerusalem -- which is only 15 miles from the northern gate of Jericho -- where the action of this Gospel passage unfolds. The scene of Jesus walking amidst the disciples and other followers was not uncommon; for it was an opportunity for Jesus to teach as some progress was made to the next destination. The atmosphere around the group might be busy -- especially in a sizable city like Jericho and particularly at the city gate; still the climate immediately surrounding Jesus would have been quiet and attentive so that the listeners might hear the master.

Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.

In addition to the usual busyness around the city gate there would have existed a spirit of a parade; for it was a law that every Jewish male over 12 years of age, and within a fifteen mile radius of Jerusalem would have to attend the Passover. Those who could not make the journey or who were not obliged to would oftentimes watch the crowds pass through the city. Beggars would also capitalize on this increased traffic through the city gate. Bartimaeus was not going to miss this opportunity.

On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, Jesus, son of David, have pity on me. And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, Son of David, have pity on me.

We do not know if Bartimaeus was expecting to have Jesus pass by him on this day; however he clearly knew who Jesus was -- he knew of His power to heal for he does not hesitate in the least to cry out to Him. Bartimaeus appeals to the pity of Jesus to stop and recognize him. However, because Jesus was most likely teaching, the crowd of listeners surrounding Jesus chastised Bartimaeus and ordered him to be silent. Nevertheless, Bartimaeus perseveres with his shouts. He knows what he wants and he knows that this is the time to ask for it.

Jesus stopped and said, Call him. So they called the blind man, saying to him, Take courage; get up, he is calling you. He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, What do you want me to do for you? The blind man replied to him, Master, I want to see.

What a great moment this must have been to witness -- to see the entire entourage around Jesus come to a halt because of this blind beggar squatting on the ground who will not be silenced -- and to hear the simple but authorative command of Jesus -- Call him. Call stories are always significant in scripture and although this may not have the detail of the call of Peter, the expected response to the call is classic -- perhaps fear, perhaps unworthiness. Perhaps this is why Bartimaeus is told to take courage; for he has been called. We do not learn of any particular fear or unworthiness in Bartimaeus; but we do know that he wastes no time in responding -- throwing his cloak aside and springing up.

The question from Jesus is direct -- as is the answer of Bartimaeus. What do you want me to do for you? I want to see.

Jesus told him, Go your way; your faith has saved you. Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Site is restored. Bartimaeus knew what he wanted. He aggressively pursued the attention of Jesus. He asked for what he wanted. Jesus responded with a miracle. Bartimaeus responded by following Jesus.

HOMILY: I think a strong theme for preaching this Sunday would be the need to ask Jesus for what we need. For a host of reasons we sometimes stop praying or we pray less frequently. Sometimes if we do pray, we neglect to ask for anything for ourselves. What stops us from praying? Fear, anger, guilt, broken hearts, temptation, apathy. We do not deserve to be happy. We are afraid of holiness. We are angry at God for what appears to be unanswered prayers. We are tempted away from prayer by worldly or sinful things. We stop caring about our relationship with Jesus.

It is time to put a stop to that. It is time to call out to Jesus here and now. Loud and clear. To once again contemplate what we are missing in life. To hear the voice of Jesus ask us -- What do you want me to do for you? And, to respond. Bartimaeus said that he wanted to see. What is it that we want to see in our lives? Ask for it. Have faith.

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