As the audition of witnesses began, a young political leader was taken into pretrial detention. His alleged crime: making government-owned property available and affordable to a certain section of the population, 90 percent of whom previously lived in rented apartments. His real crime: performing a seemingly small act that had the potential to make a huge difference for families who lived with the effects of generational poverty.
In today’s reading, we see Jesus performing a small act with huge consequences as he and his disciples move through Jericho. By now Jesus’ reputation has grown, and he is highly sought-after. In this scene, he is surrounded by a huge crowd. In the midst of the cacophony, a desperate Bartimaeus cries out. He is blind; and, in that time and culture, he has no way of supporting himself or his family. He desperately wants his situation to change. Yet when he cries out for help, there is a popular attempt to intimidate him and leave him in his present condition. Fortunately for Bartimaeus, Jesus hears and pays attention. Jesus invites him to draw nearer and asks about his need. With a trusting heart, Bartimaeus shares his deepest concern—and he is set free from his blindness. Jesus gives him new life.
There is a clear connection between faith and deliverance. There is also a clear indication of the importance of individual or institutional channels of God’s grace. What if the invitation in this story—to individual Christians and the institutions they represent—is to go beyond introducing and inviting people to faith in a sanitized Jesus? What if we are invited to be visible, attentive, and genuine channels of God’s grace to the dispossessed? What if we are to meet them in their situations and journey with them to new spiritual depth and long-lasting freedom from the physical dispossession that oftentimes underlies a multitude of ills? What if?
How are you, or the institution you represent, making a difference in the life of the dispossessed?
Sometimes we can look back and see why challenging things happened to us, but this is not always the case. Job never fully understood his story but finally submitted his life to God in humility. In Job’s case, God restored with abundance. The psalmist also rejoices that although the righteous may suffer, God brings ultimate restoration. The reading from Hebrews continues celebrating Christ’s role as the compassionate high priest. Unlike human high priests, who serve only for a time, Christ remains our priest forever. A man without sight in Jericho knows of Jesus’ compassion and cries out for it, despite attempts to silence him. He asks Jesus for mercy, physical healing in his case, and Jesus grants his request because the man has displayed great faith.
Read Job 42:1-6, 10-17. What are your happy and unhappy endings? How do you acknowledge both?
Read Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22. How does God deliver you from your fears? Recall a recent experience of this.
Read Hebrews 7:23-28. What distinction do you draw between sacrifice and offering?
Read Mark 10:46-52. How do you respond to Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Respond by posting a prayer.
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