This reflection was brought to us by Gordon Ramsay (not the sweary one) on October 31, 2021
- Job 42:1-7,10-17
- Psalm 34:1-8,(19-22)
- Hebrews 7:23-28
- Mark 10:46-52
Have you noticed that people regularly see patterns in things.
We can be good at seeing images, or shapes, in clouds
or even seeing faces in the frothy milk on our coffee.
Sometimes we see patterns when in reality there probably isn’t really a pattern to see
and at other times we can miss patterns that are quite deliberately built in to things
The gospel that churches across the world have been concentrating on this year is Mark.
And in Mark there is a really solid pattern that has been built in.
And a good starting point for us to remember
is that it is a gospel written for the followers of Jesus
much more than a gospel to try to convince people that they should become Christians.
In many ways it is a discipleship manual – how to build a new world order.
And in Mark, one of the patterns that repeats quite often
are healings about people who cant hear, or who cant see.
Mark will tie two stories together –
one that is about how to follow Jesus with a story about someone being healed
from being unable to hear, or unable to see.
Have a read sometime and see how it works. It’s there quite a bit
Why is all this important –
because, remember the real message in Mark is *how* to be a follower of Jesus
How to walk the walk.
And in Mark, the disciples regularly get a really bad rap.
They are portrayed as missing it. Over and over again.
And the more important you are as a disciple (in ‘hierarchy’) the worse it seems to be.
Peter – disciple #1 – gets the worst rap of all.
James and John – the “close ones” are almost as bad
This discipleship stuff is supposed to be *different* from normal ways of living,
the gospel is telling us.
But, Mark tells us, you just aren’t seeing how different it is.
You are not listening properly.
And then, just when the disciples muck it up again,
out comes a story about being healed from not hearing, or not seeing.
And *that’s* where the reading of Bartimaeus comes in.
It’s a story about not seeing, and seeing.
The first part of the story is about James and John
They have been following Jesus throughout Gallilee,
and now they are really close to Jerusalem.
And we all know what’s going down in Jerusalem.
They reach out to Jesus because they want something.
“What do you want me to do for you?” asks Jesus
We want a bit of glory and privilege please.
And then the group moves on to Jericho, and this guy called Bartimaeus reaches out to Jesus
“What do you want me to do for you?” asks Jesus
I want to be able to see.
Despite everything that Jesus is saying and doing, the disciples don’t get it.
If we don’t see the contrast here, then there is something wrong.
But if we smile and think that this is a nice, comforting positive passage, then we’re not looking.
It is an uncomfortable passage
and we shouldn’t read the Bartimaeus story
without also reading the James and John story.
They are part of the same narrative.
James and John want to maintain structure, familiarity, prominence.
Bartimaeus (literally) tosses away what he knows, what gives him security and heads off.
This is a story that asks us to do some thinking. Some serious thinking.
For those of us who are trying to live the way of Jesus
this passage suggests that we might have some blind spots.
There is a suggestion that if we are looking what we like, enjoy, are pleased or comforted by
then we aren’t seeing things all that well.
Maybe there is a blind spot there.
Now, if you are anything like me, you will probably find it
much easier to see other people’s blind spots than our own.
It tends to be easier to point out where other people have got it wrong
And the likelihood is that most of us tend to resent someone pointing out a blind spot
Mark tries to point it out by putting another story there
and hoping that in the two different stories, we can see something else is possible
When Emilia Willows came across Mr Walter, she gave him a new way of thinking
just by being herself.
But we just have to ask – to sit with – that awkward question today:
What’s your blind spot?
What are the ways that you live (even while you are trying to be a follower of Jesus) because you come away feeling more inwardly content.
For today, let’s allow this gospel story to speak with us here in this community.
This local community
and this faith community.
Where might the gospel suggest that we just aren’t seeing things all that well??
And what is it that we each need to help us to move
from potentially being a bit James and John-ish
in to the uncertainty of the Bartimaeus way of following Jesus
Gordon’s reflection ended with the audio of Joshua Radin singing the Jimmy Cliff song “I Can See Clearly Now” which you can hear on youtube here now, or on Spotify here, or on Apple Music here.