We Will Not Be Denied
#WeWillNotBeDenied is the podcast for October 28, 2018. Those who know suffering also know life. It gives them a perspective on Jesus that others may not have. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Mark10 #Mark #Father #Suffering #Bartimaeus #Blindness
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 10/28/2018 The 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 10:46-52.
As I was giving spiritual direction this past week, the person receiving spiritual direction said, “I am not sure that you know the joy of life if you have not experienced suffering.” Our Gospel Lesson for today is the healing of Bartimaeus, the blind man in Jericho who was begging by the side of the road when Jesus enters with an entourage. We are in chapter 10 of Mark at this point in the Christian Calendar of readings.
You may recall that back in Chapter 8, about six to eight weeks ago, Jesus went to heal a blind man. It was very difficult. The blind man was brought to Jesus. Jesus had to spit on the man’s eyes and then lay hands in prayer on him twice before he could see. Each time, his sight was gradually restored until it was completely. If you notice, the man was brought to him. He was healed. He went home.
In our passage for today, Bartimaeus was in the spot of beggars, by the side of the road, at the entrance to the City, where there would be lots of traffic. As a blind man, he was an outcast, one of the “unclean.” The entourage that follows Jesus at this point would make any rap star envious. So, by this time, word had spread that Jesus was the one who heals. As we can see from the reading, Bartimaeus, unlike the other blind man, was eager, ready, so that when Jesus came through the gates at Jericho, he was all too willing to take advantage of this moment.
In between, we have the disciples seeing Jesus as a political solution, a way to affirm their self-proclaimed greatness, and as a way to secure the transaction of being good in return for eternal life. They do not see Jesus for who he is. They are the ones who must be taken aside and constantly taught in private what Jesus means. Three times between the healing of the blind men, Jesus tells the disciples that he must be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, falsely accused, unjustly convicted, beaten to within an inch of his life while being mocked with spitting, forced to carry the tools of his own execution, and be killed with the worst form of cruelty. He told them, that although all this will happen, he will rise again after three days. Yet, they still, up to this point do not see, as we can tell from the request of James and John to sit at his right and his left in heaven.
It is interesting to note that Peter, James, and John, were fishermen: purveyors of a constant source of food. Matthew was a tax collector-one with a consistent income. There were farmers and more. The point I am making is that in the culture of Jesus’ day, these were persons of stability. They had. They were not the have nots. Those who were possessed by demons, had lost children to disease, were deaf, blind, had flows of blood, and were discounted as children can be, these are the ones who understand who Jesus is. “I am not sure you know the joy of life unless you have suffered.”
My life is no different than those I meet. I never had an earthly father. The loss walks with me every day. When others speak of their loss, I simply remember my loss and the pain and suffering I feel. If the road they are on is even just a portion of what I felt, maybe I can walk with them. We can do that for one another, Jesus urges us to do so. It is why when I run into someone who treats me age appropriately like they are a father figure, I treasure it. It is also why I love being a father.
A man I met along the campaign trail when I ran for State Senate last spring came to my house the other day. We sat on my front porch. He is an atheist liberal progressive. He said that he could tell that my faith was more of a coming of age process than a religious experience. I know my audience, as St. Paul tells us, so I didn’t say anything at that moment. What he said is not true. When I was a teenager, as many of you may know, I had a mystical experience where God the Father became my earthly father. I gave over myself to Jesus Christ and it is he who lives in me, thus God the Father is my father. Not having an earthly father gives me focus on how important it is for someone to have a father. God the Father showed me that.
Prior to the moment that I encountered Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, my life was a mess. I had no idea who Jesus Christ really was. Church was non-existent in my life, although I had been baptized. Before that moment, I was blind to the loving generosity of God. It was all around me, but I had no knowledge of it. Upon seeing who Christ is and how the Father in heaven reached down and touched my heart to tell me that I, the one my own father rejected, was lovable, I remember the pure joy I felt. You could not keep me from Jesus. My thirst for the Lord became seemingly unquenchable, though thoroughly satisfying. “I am not sure you know the joy of life if you have not experienced suffering.”
The whole reason Jesus is going through this exercise in the Gospels is because we all suffer. Bartimaeus, a blind man, consigned to begging by the side of the road in Jericho had heard and he knows this is his chance. Even the abusive shamers who tell him to shush because he is just a blind beggar, (what would the rock star Jesus want to do with him?) do not truly see who Jesus is.
Jesus is the one who loves us when others don’t. He is the one who hears our calling out when others do not listen. He is the one who restores our hearing, our sight, our health, our hearts, and our lives when others seek to tear us down, put us down, silence us. Yet, we who are of the suffering, we will not be silenced. The fire in our bones screams out for the quenching of the Waters of Eternal Life. We know that somewhere there is One who calls us to something better and we will not be denied, because in our blindness of Bartimaeus, we see like he sees.
In our finite existence, we know there has to be something better than the suffering we experience. We look at the stars and know they go on and on, therefore we know there has to be existence beyond what we experience. There is. There is a God who doesn’t shield us from suffering, but walks with us through the suffering to a life that is beyond suffering. When we experience that life with God, the joy is incomparable. It causes us to yell out to Jesus. It causes us to throw off our mats and blankets on the side of the road and run to Jesus. It causes us to reach out to others who are blind so that they, too, can experience our joy.
Unlike the first blind man who was healed through much effort and went home, Bartimaeus does not need convincing. He is a man of faith who knows who Jesus is. He sees that he is the source of healing for all the world. He sees the everlasting Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ ushers in. We, who receive the Body and the Blood, we do, too.
Throw off your suffering to meet Jesus, my brothers and sisters. Lay it upon him. Let him walk with you through it. Then be healed of this life, this world. Live out the new heaven and the new earth here in this life. Run to Jesus, he has mercy. He hears us. He welcomes us. He heals us. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian