This Week's Focus -  "The Real Miracle"
      Click the link for Mark 10:46-52  



 Dear Friends,

Here we go again. Jesus is pulling another miracle out of his bottomless bag of wonders. It’s not as spectacular as raising the dead, curing ten lepers or feeding multitudes. In fact, this is the second blind man that Jesus has cured in Mark’s Gospel. But this miracle is much more than a rerun.

Jesus cures Bartimaeus with the words: Your faith has saved you. In the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, there are only two references to the word faith. Yet in the far briefer New Testament, faith is cited scores of times…and never more powerfully than in this week’s gospel.

After a lifetime of blindness, Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus in desperation. Jesus hears his cry.  He clearly sees the blind man’s faith fighting through the darkness. Like Bartimaeus, we turn to Christ in frustration and fear when all else has failed. Jesus is used to that. He knows our frailty, our shaky mix of fear and faith. And that’s as it should be. It is the human condition. Our faith is not a destination. It is a journey. And the journey is fraught with detours and potholes.

First there are the roadblocks we build ourselves…our doubts, our inhibitions, our reluctance to let go and put things in God’s hands. Then there are the obstacles that others erect. Some were quick to tell Bartimaeus to pipe down and stop bothering Jesus. They thought Christ had better things to do than bother with this blind nuisance.

Today these are the same folks who tell us that it’s definitely not cool to publicly proclaim Jesus. But being uncool is at the very core of our faith. So uncool in fact that Paul writes to the Corinthians: That we are fools for Christ’s sake.

We know that electricity is a powerful force that changed the world in the 19th Century. But since then it has been so taken for granted that we are only aware of it when it fails. And yet electric power is all around us… pulsing through power-lines, buried in the walls of our homes… powering the systems that feed us, shelter us, inform us, protect us, transport us… powering all that sustains life as we know it. Yet we never see it unless it arcs in the atmosphere.

Faith is the electricity of the spirit. It is generated by the grace of God and activated in Baptism. Faith informs our hopes. It inspires our love. It is the foundation of the New Covenant. We do not come to God through genetic descent from Abraham. We come to God through our faith in Jesus Christ… through our belief in a miracle that took place 2000 years ago.

Far greater than the discovery of electricity, the internet, the theory of relativity… far greater than all the acquired wisdom of the ages… is the transformative power of faith. Yet it is a miracle we have grown up with… that we take for granted. Like electricity, we see faith when it arcs in the atmosphere… in the lives of saints… in the sacrifice of martyrs… in the daily witness of Christ’s love all around us.     

For such a simple, familiar word, “faith” is a highly complex challenging concept. It is a gift from God. But it is a gift we must actively accept every day. That requires getting and keeping our minds and hearts in sync with God’s grace.

Stacks of theology books have been devoted to articulating the many aspects of faith. But you probably have a pretty accurate explanation in your pocket or purse right now. Fish in your wallet for a dollar. On the flip side, you’ll see the words: In God We Trust.

That’s what Bartimaeus did. In his blindness, he clearly saw in Jesus the face of God. After years of doubt and discouragement…in the teeth of ridicule and abuse… through the grace of God, he had the will to believe. He trusted God’s gift of faith and called out to Jesus. And that’s the real miracle in this gospel.

I could use a miracle today. I bet you could, too. And we’ll get one if we lay our blindness on the Lord… if we call him in our frustrations… in our temptations and resentments. My faith tells me every prayer is answered.

That’s because the age of miracles isn’t over… if we actively embrace the faith that God’s grace is giving us today.

God love you!


A Reflection for The Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

Copyright © 2018 David Sellery, All rights reserved.

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