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Monday, October 22, 2012

Hearing The Cries Of Those In Need. Homily OUTLINE for Mark 10:46-52

Homily OUTLINE for 10.28.12
MARK 10:46-52  (see below)
Year B








In today's Lectionary Gospel reading we are speedily moving toward Jerusalem and Jesus' final confrontation with the power of darkness and the power of empire. Jericho is the last town before reaching the capital, about a days walk.

As Jesus moves beyond Jericho pilgrims also gather with him on his walk, but someone interrupts the journey:
Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."
The crowd of pilgrims saw Bartimaeus as a bother, an inconvenience, a reminder of the weight of sin and suffering. Just who does this guy think he is? They had no time for this man. He was without community stature, a nothing. And so, they wanted him to bother no one with his broken existence:
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But, their rebuke didn't keep him "in his place." In fact, he ignored the majority's opinion that he should shut-up and be a silent witness to the ebbing of his life:
“he kept calling out all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’"
Jesus hears his call, perhaps because of the title he uses for the Master, or perhaps because of the shriek of pain in his voice:
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you." He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Then, Jesus asks the question that should guide all our ministry endeavors:
"What do you want me to do for you?"
This question may seem to ask the obvious, but I assure you it is not always so. For, what may seem to the observer as the prominent need may not be the real heart-felt need at all. Further, this shows Jesus not as a super-man-healing machine, but a real person with genuine respect for the other facing him. By this I mean Bartimaeus is no mere prop in the "Jesus Show," but a real, live human being -- even though poor and infirmed. He deserves respect and the question shows Jesus offering it to him.
The blind man replied to him, "Master, 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.
It is important to take notice of the context of this pericope for it offers us stark contrasts, as many commentators have discovered:

contrast: 
the blind beggar & the rich young ruler
the blind beggar now seeing and the disciples still blind 

And, as already noted, the blind man identifies Jesus as the son of David (Messiah), a title that Jesus does not now deny or dissuade. It seems the time of anonymity is over.

R.T. France also points out that the naming of Bartimaeus and his father Timaeus probably meant that these men were familiar people to the disciples, and perhaps even to St. Mark, meaning that they both were also followers of Jesus on the way, the text saying as much:
Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
TRANSITION:
So, what are we to make of this text, and what truth does it contain for us today? Let me share three thoughts:

#1. WE MUST HEAR WITH THE EARS OF JESUS AND NOT OUR OWN CULTURE
So often our own cultural background and social teaching becomes baggage, preventing us from hearing anything or anyone except those on our own channel. That is, if we are not careful we filter out the cries of those not like us. How are we to truly help the other? We must pattern our helping ministries after the LORD. If we put ourselves in the place of Jesus in the story, we see him hearing the cries of those in need above the din of cultural elitism and parochial concerns, hearing the cries of those unlike the language or dialect or cadence of power. The other, the stranger, must be welcomed with hospitality even as we learn to take the unantiseptic risk of love, acceptance and forgiveness. This leads to the next thought...

#2. WE MUST HEAR THE CRIES OF THOSE IN NEED -- AND FOLLOW JESUS ON THE WAY BY MEETING THE NEEDS
Learning to hear the cries of those like us and those not like us is to learn to follow Jesus, but this means we not only hearing the cries of those in need but also acting to help meet those needs as well. Taking our cue from Jesus' question: "What do you want me to do for you?", we do not act with condescension -- “here I am to save the day!” Instead, we seek to listen; we seek to build a genuine healthy relationship, so that the asking for help is actually mutual and comes from the respect of a real give and take and the learned hope of a reciprocal heart-openness.


#3. WE MUST HEAR THE CRIES OF OUR OWN HEART -- "SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY!"
Finally, we must not neglect our own cries for help; we must cry out to the LORD for attention to our own needs. This is the basis, really, for being able to help the other. This means that we become increasingly self-aware and that we not assume we have somehow arrived as GOD's gift to the world. Instead, we daily acknowledge the reality of our own sin, and grief and suffering. This also mean we take to the LORD our greatest and most heart-felt need, that which we may be afraid to even name aloud. We cry out to the LORD with our pain; we offer the LORD our brokenness, knowing that the answer may never come for us in the same way it did for Bartimaeus, but knowing as well that the answer "no" carries within it the very seeds of many more "yeses," and many more blessings, if we would but wait on the LORD, who is good, and whose love never fails.



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MARK 10:46-52

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. 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." Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, Jesus 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." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.