Who is this dirty bedraggled beggar?
Who is this man lying in the filth at the side of the road?
Who is the Bartimeaus? This son of Timeaus?
This Son of the Unclean? The Son of Poverty?
Who is this blind man crying out?
Interrupting our pleasant morning gathered with Jesus.
Who is this man?
This man, this Bartimeaus, knows his physical blindness has excluded him.
He is shunned and shoved aside by the world.
His affliction holds him back from participating in the fullness of life.
It is easier for us to ignore him and hide the problems.
This man is you and I and everyone single one of us.
He is our soul crying out from within the midst of our needs from within the midst of our afflictions – Son of David have mercy on me, have mercy on us.
This is both a very personal cry and it is the communal cry of the church on behalf of humanity.
We cry out from within our affliction or at least we should be?
We cry out because we have gotten older and our bodies are failing us and the issues of our health dominate our weekly endeavours. We long again to be more active and engaged in our communities.
We cry out because we are far from home and we miss our families and our friends and although we have found some welcome here loneliness can still overtake us.
We cry out because we are anxious and we are depressed. Our minds play games with us and seem to thwart our sense security and peace in life.
We cry out because we are trying to forge ahead into a new future. Studying and trying to find our identity and be the people God calls us to be.
We cry out because our relationships are not as we would have them. Some of us long to find a partner to share our life with whilst others of us miss dearly a treasured spouse long gone from our side.
We cry out because our emotions overtake us. We find ourselves angry with other people or judging them and even knowing that in our secret hearts we hate some people – event hose whom we don;t know.
We cry out because the pressures of our work life have overtaken us. We feel weighed down and beset by the stresses and strains.
We cry out “Son of David, have mercy on me”
We know our predicament: each of us has our hidden struggles and collectively we know as humanity we cry out or at least we should:
We cry out “Son of David, have mercy on us”
Have mercy on those who are in the refugee camps and fleeing across the world. The young girls being sold as wives. The people languishing for years with no hope in sight. The people who have no fixed address and no country to call their.
Have mercy on those who feel so driven by their predicament to believe that violence is the answer. Have mercy on the warmongers and those who exploit the fragile lives of those who are seeking meaning and purpose.
Have mercy on us who as a race are driven by progress and growth in a finite world with finite resources. Have mercy on us who are destroying the ecosystems and the environment and even the climate.
Have mercy on us who perpetuate exclusion and division. Who ostracise the first inhabitants of lands like Australia. Who elevate one tribe and country above others at the expense of others.
We cry out because we are Bartimeaus bus we also are susceptible to crying out for the voices to stop.
Like the crowd who were gathered alongside Jesus, the ones who had become his followers and friends, we too can silence our own cries, each other’s cries and the cries of the community around.
Instead of being honest that we are indeed Bartimeaus we claim a spot alongside Jesus and think we are the only ones who belong there – we forget that we need that mercy too as we shut up and try to silence the voices within us, around us and beyond us.
But Jesus, Jesus, hears the cries. I believe hears the spoken and the unspoken cries and Jesus upsets us as he invites the blind beggar close – the sufferer, the needy one.
I was here on Thursday afternoon as the thunder and lightning came and as a storm hit, bucketing a torrent of water from the sky.
A noticed a man standing in the doorway and opened the doors of the church so he might shelter from the passing storm.
As he thanked me I joked “The church is always here to offer shelter from the storm” but this is no joke for this is who our Lord is.
Jesus hears the cries of Bartimeaus and of all us as we recognise the shortfalls and the difficulties and the afflictions and we cry out “Son of David, have mercy.”
Jesus desire is that we might have fullness in our lives, Jesus intent is for healing and for hope and for wholeness in life.
He says to Bartimeaus, your faith has made you well.
It’s always shaky ground to connect faith with healing. We spent the last 3 weeks thinking about that as reflected on the story of Job. Yet, persistent and perseverance are part of our journey and more than that accommodating each other’s cries for mercy – finding tolerance and not blocking the way to Jesus but leading people to Jesus.
Who is this blind beggar at the side of the road?
This man lying in the filth and turmoil of life.
This man is you, it is I, it is everyone we meet who can admit their problems.
And our faith, our hope is this, that Jesus hears our cries:
“Son of David, have mercy on me”
“Son of David, have mercy on me”