This morning we were privileged to hear a sermon delivered by, Father Joseph Brown.
Father Brown, spoke to us from the book of Mark 10:46-52. ‘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. 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.
Father Brown asked, who are we in the story of Blind Bartimaeus? Are we the religious people of the day that are, warmly ensconced behind the walls of Jericho? The Jews were captives of Pharaoh for 400 years and then spent another 40 years wandering in the wilderness…but by the time of the story in the book of Mark…they had made it…to the promised land.
We christians have been immigrants and hungry and fleeing persecution in the countries that we came from…but now we are comfortable in the rich embrace of capitalism…and know not…the stranger that knocks at our door…believing that we are the welcoming country that we say that we are.
When we see blind Bartimaeus…we wonder why he is in the condition that he is in…certainly he must not have studied or worked hard enough or been dedicated to the scriptures…as we are…and thus his well deserved plight.
‘You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Deuteronomy 10:19 NRV
‘The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.’ Leviticus 19:34 NRV
‘Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you; they have testified to your love before the church. You do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God; for they began their journey for the sake of Christ, accepting no support from non-believers. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that they may become co-workers with the truth.’ 3 John 1:5 NRV
‘In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all in all.’ Colossians 3:11 NRV
And, so, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Are we the people that are behind the walls of Jericho…or are we blind Bartimaeus? Do we identify with the elite and the financially secure and the, false, comfort, of our gated communities…or do we identify with our history of suffering and want and deprivation and sorrow and fear and our search for a land of peace and opportunity?
‘ In reply Jesus said; ‘ A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity of him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘ Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Luke 10: 30-35 NIV