October 28, 2012


(This is a partial re-post from this Sunday three years ago. But I was grateful to read it again, so I thought maybe it was worth it.)

St. Mark's presentation of blind Bartimaeus is full of wonderful ironies. Most plainly there is the classic irony of the blind person being the one who can actually see; after several episodes in which the disciples address Jesus with incomplete titles--e.g. master, teacher, rabbi--this blind beggar finally calls upon Jesus with all of his saving and royal dignity: "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

In their arrogance and presumption, James and John had approached Jesus and told him, "We want you do for us whatever we ask of you." Now Jesus addresses Bartimaeus in a similar way: "What do you want me to do for you?"

An authentic encounter with Jesus, i.e. prayer, always becomes an encounter with the desires of the heart. If our desires are distorted we can expect, like James and John, to receive a jarring challenge in response. If our heart is in the right place we will hear the words Jesus gives back to Bartimaeus: "Go your way: your faith has made you well."

The end of the healing experience matters as well. Right away the newly sighted Bartimaeus follows Jesus "on the way." Here we see the difference between Christianity and the 'spirituality' of the world. A worldly, so-called spirituality offers healing so that we might enjoy ourselves. The end of being healed in Christ is discipleship; we are restored in Christ so that we might follow him on his Way.

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