I don’t think we can hear it enough, that God loves us and cares for us and wants to bring us to Him. In fact, I think it’s important to dwell on that as often as you can. This Sunday’s readings are a great example of just how important we are to our heavenly Father.
In the first reading from Jeremiah, the prophet tells his people (us) of the good news, their (our) release from exile:
Our God says, “Shout with joy! Sing praise! I will bring my people back to their home. I will gather them from all over the world where they have been scattered. I will bring those who are blind and those who are crippled. I will comfort them and lead them on a straight road, so that no one will stumble and fall. For they are my children, and I take care of them.” Jeremiah 31:7-9
In the Gospel, Mark tells us about Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who, having heard about Jesus, sits on the side of the road waiting for Jesus to pass. When Jesus comes down the road Bartimaeus begins calling loudly to him, over the excited crowd and noise, “Jesus, have pity on me! Help me!” The people around him tell him to be quiet but he shouted the same, louder still, and Jesus heard him. When Jesus says, “Tell the man to come here.” Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak, jumped up and ran to Jesus. When asked by Jesus what he wants him to do for him, Bartimaeus replies, with childlike simplicity, “Teacher, I want to be able to see!” Jesus says, “You are healed because you believe in me.” The man could immediately see and became a disciple and began to follow Jesus on the road. Jesus knows that Bartimaeus already sees, better than the crowd around him and even his own disciples. Jesus does not have to use rituals to heal the man, like making mud out of spit and dirt and putting it on his eyes, since he is already filled with strong faith. The physical healing only amplifies the spiritual sight he already possesses.
There are two underlying themes here that I wouldn’t want you to miss:
First, The Road. The same road, I believe, runs through each telling. God promises a straight road that we won’t stumble and fall. Bartimaeus was by the side of the road, and when his sight was restored he followed Jesus on the road. Is this the “road to salvation”? Clearly it is that same road, too.
Second, the Father/child relationship: God says that we are his children and He will take care of us. Bartimaeus replies to Jesus in a quiet, simple, childlike way, “Teacher, I want to see!” We are told in many ways how to approach God, and none so clearly as Jesus saying, “Let the little children come to me.” If we see this from an adult standpoint, we must be like children in our sincere love, our simple faith, our acceptance and expectation of unconditional love from a parent, and we must humble ourselves, acting as children to a parent. We need to have the same energetic desire to please, to love and be loved, that Bartimaeus possessed when he RAN to Jesus when summoned!
What God wants most is for us to be with him. He has done everything to ensure we can be with him, including coming among us as a man and taking upon himself our sin and suffering and dying on the cross as our sacrificial lamb. That selfless act created the means, the “road”, by which we can return to our God, our heavenly Father and our road is straight and clear. Toss aside that heavy cloak, jump up and run toward the road that leads to salvation!!
This week’s Psalm is Psalm 126: The Lord Has Done Great Things For Us. Please follow these hyperlinks to the music demo and the lead sheet.
May God bless your week ahead!