Transcript of the Post:
Welcome back to If Necessary Use Words! This is a place for praying with images. I’m Jon Shematek, a Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
Every Monday, we’ll look at a portion of the Gospel assigned for the upcoming Sunday, and reflect together using a form of Visio Divina, in which we combine scriptural text, images and reflection. I hope this will engage you in thought, conversation or next Sunday’s sermon.
Today we explore the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10: 46 – 52, assigned for Proper 25, Year B, which this year falls on October 28th.
First Listen or Read Carefully: “Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.” (NRSV)
Now Look: at this image of two ophthalmologists performing cataract surgery. A common enough occurrence. Focus on the intensity of their gaze through the operating microscopes, the absolutely meticulous care with which they handle the instruments, the well-orchestrated positions of their hands. One misstep could be disastrous. Note the bright light illuminating the operative field, allowing them to see tiny details. Look more deeply. What else do you see here, or sense?
What you cannot see is what made this surgery uncommon…the circumstances under which it happened. These are two volunteer physicians who traveled to an impoverished region of Jamaica, bringing with them equipment, supplies and lenses to restore sight to poor persons who had become blind. What made this particular operation even more remarkable was, in response to their question “why do you want to have this surgery?” the woman responded, “the only thing I want to do again, the one thing that I miss the most, is reading my Bible.” Look again.[Allow Time for Your Personal Reflection]
Now Reflect: Consider the amazing story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, and all the remarkable detail that Mark includes. Recall that in Jesus’ time, blindness and all physical ailments and disabilities were thought to be due to sinful behavior on the affected person’s part, or even the part of the parents. Yet this person is outrageously persistent, calling to Jesus, despite the discouraging words of the crowd of onlookers. Imagine that moment when Jesus stopped. Stood still. Halted his journey to invite this poor soul into his presence. Then the crowd reversed themselves and said, “take heart.” “Be courageous.”
The man began running to Jesus, literally with blind faith, trusting Jesus to be there, listening for his voice, and following his heart into his presence. Then perhaps surprising to us, Jesus asks what he wanted from him. To name his hope, his dream. When we pray, we need to name our deepest desires and vision for the future.
Jesus had a spectacular vision of what the future could hold, what the Kingdom of God looks like.
What do you want Jesus to do for you? What vision would you most like to see? Imagine what this would look like.[Allow Time for Your Personal Reflection]
Now Act: This is your opportunity to cure yourself and others of blindness. Be an agent of insight. Eliminate blindness. Eliminate blind hatred. Eliminate blind fear. Eliminate blind racism. Eliminate blind sexism. What other types of blindness can you change, in yourself, in someone else?
Consider how you can align your own personal vision of the future with Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom, and decide now on one concrete step that you can take to help make that vision a reality.[Allow Time for Your Personal Reflection]
This is Jon Shematek. Thanks so much for participating in If Necessary Use Words. A place for praying with images. Please leave a comment on this post with any personal insights, reflections, or concerns, so that others may benefit from your thoughts.[Song: “Ambient Sonata” / Album: Ambient Sonata / Artist: Dee Yan-Key]
[Image: “ The Operation” St. Mary, Jamaica Photographer: Jon Shematek]