bible blog 1313

This blog offers a meditation on the Comon Lectonary daily readings along with a headline form world news:

IN TWO DAYS ITALIAN NAVY RESCUES 4000 AFRICANS FLEEING POVERTY  refugees

Mark 10:46-52

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

46-47 Then they came to Jericho, and as he was leaving it accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting in his usual place by the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth he began to call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”

48 Many of the people told him sharply to keep quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”

49 Jesus stood quite still and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying, “It’s all right now, get up, he’s calling you!”

50 At this he threw off his coat, jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked him. “Oh, Master, let me see again!”

52 “Go on your way then,” returned Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” And he recovered his sight at once and followed Jesus along the road.

Jesus heals Bartimeus by Nicolas Poussin

Jesus heals Bartimeus by Nicolas Poussin

Jesus was a healer. That’s a fact to which the whole tradition of Jesus bears witness. Most of his healing acts, however, may not be narrated directly in the Gospels as the gospel writers and probably their sources, tended to select and alter these stories to gain maximum theological  meaning. In this case, there may have been some particular act of healing associated with a blind beggar named Bartimeus, but it’s clear that Mark has stripped the story of all except the elements he wants for his purpose, which is to sum up his expose of the blindness of Jesus’ disciples in the face of his impending death. 

Here we have a blind man who (1) knows that he’s blind; (2) believes that Jesus is the Messiah=Son of David; (3) cries out to him for healing (4) responds immediately when Jesus calls him; (5) trusts in Jesus’ healing word; (6) follows Jesus on the road to the cross. He is a total contrast to the  fearful, self-seeking disciples who are blind to Jesus’ true destiny. He is also of course, a model for the community of believers for whom Mark is writing. They are to see themselves in him, whose name in Aramaic may mean “son of poverty.” The poor and the blind are transformed by Jesus into disciples who can see clearly and who become rich in the shared life of the believing community. Rich people and those who want to be rich in the world’s goods do not know their blindness; but poor people, buffeted by deprivation and exclusion know the limits  of their spiritual sight. To them, Jesus appears as a King who can heal and enlighten, and whom they will follow against the oppressive powers of the world. The Afro-American community in 19th century USA identified with this story and captured it with magnificent simplicity in their spiritual:

Blin’ man stood on the road an’ cried

Blin’ man stood on the road an’ cried

Cryin’ O Lord, show me the way

Blin’ man stood on the road an’ cried

This blind man is already on the road that Jesus travels but he needs healed, so that he can follow Jesus with open eyes, trusting that it’s a way to victory and not defeat.crucifixion-of-christ-near-amarillo-tx_0111-150x150

For those of us who know how blind and poor we are, this is a story of hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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