Monday, 31 August 2015

5th Sunday of August Healing Service

Andre-Rublev's Saviour
The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus: Mark 10:46-52

46 They 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. 4747 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 4848 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 4949 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.’ 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 5151 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.’ 52 Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.” *

It is, I think fair to say that every person will approach passages of scripture from their own perspective.  Some will find depths within the passages, others may not see.  On other occasions, we will get an insight into something we had not thought of before, even though we may know the passage very well.  This is I believe the work, or prompting, of the Holy Spirit.  Each revelation has its own purpose and meaning.  If we listen, the Spirit has a way of speak to us, just the words we need, when we need them.

Today we have a healing service, so remember always, that there is a difference between healing and curing.  We often confuse the two terms.  If we understand that healing is something that affects our spirit, our beings.  We may need healing for a past emotional hurt; or to help us come to accept the existence of an illness, disease or condition that may be with us for the rest of our earthly lives.  To be cured of an illness, disease or condition means that it has been completely removed from our physical bodies.  We can then see curing is something most often performed by the medical profession.  Miracles excepted, of course!  If we use these two terms in this way, then we can see that it is possible to be healed, and not be cured, of the illness, disease or condition we are suffering from.

In Mark’s telling of the healing we know a lot about Bartimaeus.  He was Timaeus’ son.  He was blind.  He was a beggar.  He lived outside Jericho.  He had a loud voice.  He knew who Jesus was.  He was not afraid to call out.  He knew he needed Jesus’ healing touch.

Does this sound like any of us? We have things in common with Bartimaeus.  We are someone’s child, we know who Jesus is, and we are, in some way also needing God’s healing touch.  Bartimaeus sought his healing through God’s mercy.  Do we also seek God’s mercy?  Are we certain that we can attain God’s mercy?  Do we perhaps prefer to listen to ourselves, or those around us who make us feel unloved, rather than seeking God’s love and mercy?
* Scripture is from: ‘New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.’

Do you shrink back from reaching out to God?  Do you think it is safer to be lost in the crowd?  Bartimaeus did not think or do this, nor should we.  Healing comes through seeking God’s mercy, not shrinking from it.  When Bartimaeus knew Jesus was near, and could have mercy on him, he shouted, standing out from the crowd.

Jesus heard Bartimaeus calling out to him and stopped.  Jesus told the crowd to call Bartimaeus forward.  The crowd listened and then encouraged Bartimaeus to go forward.  Perhaps there are times when we call out, but are not so certain that we have been heard.  We expect a response, a reply to our calling out.  When what we expect does not happen, how and when we want it, then we become disillusioned and perhaps even abandon our faith.

Bartimaeus did not know he had been heard.  It was the crowd around him, which told him to take heart.  Moreover, when Bartimaeus was called he went.  There was no hesitation, no delay no question.  He held fast to his faith.

Do we do the same?  Perhaps in love and mercy, God has answered your call for healing and you did not hear it?  Did you delay, question or just simply ignore the reply?  Be attentive for the reply (others may tell you of it) and then be decisive - go and do.  Hold onto your faith.  Remember, Bartimaeus took decisive action when he sought, and heard, God’s mercy.

St Mark tells us a lot about that Bartimaeus’ healing.  He received his sight, after Jesus had told him he was healed.  Jesus spoke the words of healing - Mark does not say Jesus touched Bartimaeus.  Then Bartimaeus followed Jesus along the road.

His faith that Jesus could heal him was all that Bartimaeus needed to be healed.  When we read this, it seems so simple.  Yet we like to make it all a lot more complicated for ourselves, why?  Perhaps we are not certain of our faith.  Perhaps we look for an ‘insurance policy”, a “backup plan.”  Just in case!  Bartimaeus was not content to be healed and then go back to his old place, his back up plan.  He was healed and so he started a new journey.  Is this our experience?  Is this what we do?  Do we follow along the road?

If it was our faith that brought us to God, to seek God’s mercy, love, and healing, surely we can do nothing else but be certain.  To do otherwise is to doubt.  So take heart, start, or re-start your faith journey.  It is a wonderful, mysterious and loving trip.

Remember, it was Bartimaeus’ faith that healed him.