What does it take to be touched by Jesus? Remember it’s reciprocal as in any relationship. In fact, He created the dynamics of relationship of anything to anything … atom to atom and person to person.
As Jesus was traveling with his disciples to Jerusalem on his way to his ultimate gift of himself on the cross, he clearly explained to them what was coming. But they couldn’t get it. And we can really relate to the disciples’ struggle to understand what Jesus was telling them on the way to his Calvary. Jesus’ sayings were actually beyond their immediate human understanding, the grasp of their material minds. As they traveled they did have things revealed to them … revelations that were initially beyond their understanding. But those revelations were not beyond the grasp of their faith. They understood soil and good ground and bountiful food for thousands … but they just couldn’t take in going to Jerusalem to die … and then that incomprehensible rising again. How does one have faith in that?
The Gospel description is a sharp contrast for us to grasp … the difference between striving human understanding … and faith that seizes on revelation … and acts on it. Jesus’ very disciples who have been with him for at least three intense years cannot grasp in faith what he is telling them. But there on the roadside is a blind beggar who has never met him before … and he is able to know who Jesus is before receiving any healing … and then upon receiving his sight, he unquestioningly follows him. To a destitute beggar just touched by God, going to Jerusalem to die and rise again is probably quite reasonable.
All through this we have ask ourselves what is the level and strength of our faith and belief. Maybe we can understand why our Loving Lord would allow us to occasionally be destitute at the roadside of our lives, and have only our cry, “Jesus, have mercy on me!” Because only thereby can most of us break through into genuine faith.
We all start out blind before Almighty God and acknowledge that while we are blind, we are being totally seen in every aspect of our being by the God we hardly dare to approach. Our worship services start with declaring that to Almighty God “All hearts are open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hid.” That is where we start from as we cry out to Our Lord passing by.
In the living wisdom of the Gospel, we have these earnest struggling folks passing a blind beggar crying out for mercy. Their vision is so darkened that they rebuke and tell him to shut up. The Savior of all mankind is too important to heed you or bring you mercy. But the holy irony here is devastating. All these acolytes and followers are functionally blind, and the blind beggar is the only one who has eyes that see … the only one who can see Jesus as his savior and healer. He doesn’t need anything explained to him in human terms because he has eyes of faith. We, as always, carry inside ourselves both the blind disciples and the blind beggar who can see.
St. Paul says we see through a glass darkly. Ironically, it seems, our maturing in years and understanding don’t really guarantee to improve our spiritual sight -- our grasp of what’s revealed to us. St. Paul assures us there will be a time when our fragmented understanding will be healed … and we will be in a state of knowing equal to our Lord’s knowing of us. But not yet … that’s for the time of being raised again … in a new heaven and a new earth. But not yet. And are any of us ready to see with our Savior’s eyes and heart … to bear the things and secrets revealed to us? As he told us he has many things yet to reveal to us … but we cannot yet bear them … all that beauty and all that sorrow.
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What are we to do as we “go up to Jerusalem” once again this Lenten season? We’re going to face his death yet again. And then be overwhelmed by the holy wonder of his resurrection. Jesus knows that the blind beggar inside all of us already can see what’s really important to see. Jesus sees, as he sees all of us, totally down into the depths of our being … and he says to us, “thy faith hath saved thee.” The healing of physical blindness is secondary … the man needed saving as do we all. The saving is … our reconciliation with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
From the 23rd Psalm: only six verses, words of faith that are traditionally read to those who are passing from this mixed-up world into the realities of heaven:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The Rev. Canon Charles Dillon is rector of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, 1250 Oakville Grade in Rutherford. Services are at 8:30 a.m., said Mass, and 10:30 a.m., Choral Mass with organ and music. Evening Prayer is Wednesday at 6 p.m. To reach the church, call 707-944-8915, Rector, 707-953-9369 or visit ststephensoakville.org and “facebook.com/pages/StStephensOakville
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