sight & vision

Biblea biblical reflection, based on Mark 10.46-52, for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, October 25, 2015

Christ Healing the Blind Man, Eustache Le Sueur, c. 1600

“As (Jesus) and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus (literally meaning) son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.”[1]

As a logophile, names are the most important words I know. To give to another and to receive from another the words that identify us and to which we respond when called is an act of great hospitality. (And to forget another’s name or to have one’s name forgotten can provoke social discomfort, but also can evoke a sense of dishonor, leaving one feeling not important enough to have been remembered.) This is why I like Mark’s telling of the story of Jesus’ healing the blind man at Jericho. He alone recalls his name.[2]

I also like Bartimaeus. For though sightless, he had a clarity of vision. The vision of recognition. He knew Jesus’ name and who Jesus was and, therefore, what he dare could ask and expect in asking: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me…let me see again.”

I have sight. I can see. Still, I often lack the vision, as a prayer expresses it, “to see (God’s) hand at work in the world about us”,[3] in other words, to recognize the meaning behind (to make sense of) what I see. I confess that a great reason for my existential, if not physical blindness rests on two presumptions, both admittedly arrogant. First, that things (the world, others, youme) should be as I want, especially from the viewpoint of my most benevolent dreams and desires. Second, that God ought to make it so. And when this doesn’t happen, which is most (all?) of the time, I, though seeing, see nothing (or, perhaps more honestly said, refuse to accept what I see).

I like Bartimaeus and I’d like to be more like him. He, a visionary, knew who Jesus was. And, in that, I suspect that even if Jesus had not fulfilled his wish to “see again,” Bartimaeus would have gone forth from that moment, come whate’er and whene’er, knowing that he had stood in the presence of God. With faith like that Bartimaeus already was well.

Illustration: Christ Healing the Blind Man, Eustache Le Sueur, c. 1600

Footnotes:

[1] My parenthetical additions

[2] See Matthew 20.29-34 and Luke 18.35-43

[3] From Eucharistic Prayer C, The Book of Common Prayer, page 372

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2 thoughts on “sight & vision

  1. I try my best to see God’s hand in the world!! It works most of the time too!! I’m happy with my vision, especially with the things I’ve seen in nature while camping AND in the wonderful people we’ve met while camping (in spite of the fact that we don’t look like any of the folks who have tested us so well)….

    Where I Really struggle and what I feel most badly about is how I have such difficulty with people’s names!! They are important to me, but for some reason the names don’t stick in my head!!! It’s disheartening because I know it makes people feel bad, but not as bad as I do. One of the things I’ve always loved about you is that fact that you remember everyone’s name ALL the time!! I was blown away by the fact that you remembered my name well before I ever became a member of St. Mark’s!! Who does that?? You do!!! The scariest thing for me of course is that in the back of my mind I’m praying that my lack of memory for names isn’t a sign that dementia is in my near future….. I’ll keep practicing names because I do want to honor people in that way.

    In any case, I’ll never forget your name Paul, and thanks for the reflection!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Won’t forget you or your name either, Loretta, until I DO (given my familial mental health history!). BTW each of us fails to recall something. I’m not sure why remembering names and faces comes easily for me. That said, please know, there have been moments when I’ve forgotten someone’s name. Usually (and this took a while and some humility to get to it!), I say something like: “I apologize to you, for I should recall your name, but right now I can’t. Please tell me again.”

    Liked by 1 person

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