As preparations were being made for my trip to El Salvador we were told of the cultural shock that we would experience. Upon multiple things we were told that their would be no hot water, that their is barbed wire everywhere, that the children loved stickers, and that it is a catholic country. It was one thing to tell us about what will be to what actually happens. When we were told of these many things, they had a very small impact because it never really sunk in. It was only until we got to El Salvador that we began to feel nervous because of the barbed wire, upset that their was no cold water, and to see how truly happen the children were to receive stickers. It was only until the actual adventure that all these statements became alive and left a mark.
|My Self with a group of children in El Salvador|
In a way as I was preparing for El Salvador I was a St Thomas. The reality of the situation hadn't come alive until I actually saw it. It is not to say that I didn't believe these things but rather that they were harder to understand while living in the secular, consumerism-centred society of North America. When we did land in El Salvador it came alive; my eyes were opened and I got metaphorically put my hands in the side of Christ.
Todays gospel is a key point within the journey of Jesus. In Mark 8:27-35 ( twenty -fourth Sunday of Ordinary time) we heard the beginning of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. Along the path Jesus is showing his disciples what it means and what is required to be a true disciple. Today ends the journey to Jerusalem and begins his ministry in Jerusalem where he will soon endure his passion.
For the past couple of weekends we have seen false ideologies of the disciples on what it means to be a disciple. They have thought that it is a role of power, a job for the rich, and a necessity to have many possessions. However, with each false idea, Jesus corrects his disciples and builds upon tradition; adding a new, perfect and fulfilling teaching that sounds odd to the disciples ears because it is counter-cultural. It isn't about being a powerful ruler, or being rich, but rather being a humble, simple, suffering servant. This is what Jesus wants the to know, however, they continuously fail.
The gospel today provides a contrast to Jesus' disciples. A poor blind man, named Bartimaeus, was sitting on the side of the road and crying out to Jesus, "Jesus Son of David have mercy on me." (Mk 10:47) Bartimaeus is silenced by the crowd, however, he shouts all the louder. The same crowd that demanded him to be quiet, then calls him to go see Jesus. Instead of asking for money or any possessions, Bartimaeus asks that his sight might be restored. Jesus, acknowledging Bartimaeus' faith, heals him so that he may once again see.
As mentioned above the journey to Jerusalem is about coming to see who Jesus is and what it means to follow him. The disciples have been blinded with so many earthly interests that they do not understand who Jesus is. Bartimaeus highlights this theme by beings physically healed, even though he could fully see before. He could see through his spiritual eyes that saw and acknowledged Jesus as the Suffering Servant. As a sign of Bartimaeus' faith, Jesus rewards him with the gift of physical sight. A sign, that is faith was true and did not depend on the physical seeing of Jesus was that after he was healed, he accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem, into his passion.
Bartimaeus is a true example for us, as disciples. He was uniquely focused of Jesus and continued to follow him-even to Jesus' passion. Bartimaeus teaches us that our faith and cries to Jesus can lead to a deeper, and fuller relationship with him. His experience teaches us that when we are focused solely on Christ, even when others try to silence us, then we will experience a deeper and more personal encounter with Christ.
May we come to see Christ has the suffering servant, like Bartimaeus did. May we come to search for Christ more in our life, seeking out to do His will and to constantly want to follow him. May we come to ask for Christ to lift our blindness- our blindness, that like the disciples, prevent us from seeing Jesus as the Suffering Servant that comes to save us. May we come to experience Christ in a personal way so that the words we are told about him may create in us a true and everlasting mark.
May we come to truly see the world with eye of faith- staying forever focused on Christ, who is leading us to Jerusalem.
Have a Good Sunday!
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