Cusp-a point of transition, as from one historical period to the next;
the borders between the twelve astrological signs.
You are considered to be "on the cusp" if you were born
within a day or two of the beginning or end of any sign.

The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, 1863; Albert Bierstadt

26 October 2009

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time-B, 25 October 2009

Did you ever just want somebody to listen to you? Maybe you’ve been trying to work your way through a chain of automated options when calling about a problem you’re having with a bill. None of the options really address the kind of problem you’re having and in desperation you yell out, “I just want to talk to a real person who can help me.”
Some of the local television news teams have a reporter whose assignment is to help people who have hit a brick wall or run out of options in trying to settle a dispute with a business or some local government agency. Many of these people appear to be those on the margins of society, the kind of people no one pays attention to because they aren’t important enough. All they really want is a fair hearing of their complaint. Quite often there is a favorable outcome for them because they were indeed being treated unfairly, or were being completely ignored.
Bartimaeus is one of these persons on the margin. As a blind man He would have been considered one whose life was marred by sin. He is at the edge of the road; his cloak is spread out on the ground to catch the coins that some may toss onto it. He knows that the crowd has gathered to watch the young Galilean rabbi on his way to Jerusalem for the Passover. This is the one chance he may have to get his attention. He calls out to Jesus using a title that the crowd may easily recognize as belonging to the Messiah. The crowd views him as a nuisance and tries to silence him. Who does he think he is anyway? He will not be “put on hold” and calls out all the louder. Jesus must acknowledge the blind man who recognizes his true identity and calls to him. The man abandons his cloak and goes to him. Jesus, echoing what he has just told James and John, says, “What do you want me to do for you? Master, I want to see. Go your way; your faith has saved you.” A grateful Bartimaeus follows Jesus.
This passage closes the journey to Jerusalem that began when Jesus cured the blind man at Bethsaida. During that journey Jesus announced three times that he must suffer and die. He said that a true disciple must pick up his cross and follow him, and that a true follower of his will become the servant of others. Jesus gives an example of this by attending to the cry of the blind man.
How do we see ourselves in this passage? Are we the blind beggar stripped of human dignity, depending on the generosity of others? Are we the surrounding crowd trying to silence the cry of the poor and marginalized in our society? Are we bold in faith crying out to God for mercy? Are we the servant of the poor and disenfranchised? In our gratitude for the saving love of Jesus can we leave our cloaks on the ground and follow him without reservation?
Every day we are presented with choices by which we can affirm our call to follow in the path of Jesus or go our own way. These choices come often in the mundane and routine activities that fill our life. Choices we make about the kind of person we want to be seen as; choices about how we treat the people closest in our life; choices about how we best serve the different communities in which we are members: family, school, workplace, neighborhood, state, nation, world.
We can either see ourselves helpless and hopeless, a pawn in a game in which we can only go where the forces move us, or we can be empowered by our faith in Christ to be a dynamic partner with him to bring the kingdom of God into its fullness, starting with ourselves of course.
“Master, I want to see.” What is it that you want to “see” that will change your life as radically as Bartimaeus changed his?
Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

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