A N EW VISION FOR LIFE (Mark 10:46-52)
Editor’s Note: The following is a sermon preached by the Rev. Deacon Toua Vang at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church (an Anglo-Vietnamese-Multicultural parish) in Falls Church, Virginia. Deacon Vang is completing his M. Div. degree at Virginia Theological Seminary. He is a member of Holy Apostles’ Episcopal Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, a predominantly Hmong American congregation. Deacon Toua is our first theologically-trained Hmong minister. – Fred Vergara
Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?
The blind man replied, "My teacher, let me see again."
For the blind, to be able to see again is like being in a new world. I remember one morning back in the late 1980's, when I chose to sit in one of the back seat of the classroom. Nothing seemed unusual on that day, but when class began I could not see what my teacher was writing on the board. Twice on that day I asked my teacher for permission to go to the rest room, just to wash my eyes, but that did not help. "Will I be blind?" I felt so insecure. At my brother's advice, I then went to see an optometrist. Thank God for eye glasses! With a pair of them, things appeared so clear. I surely had missed seeing a number of things. The restoration of vision also brought back my sense of confidence.
In the Gospel of Mark, a blind man named Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus for help. The only thing Bartimaeus could do for a living was to beg. He had no power in himself to help himself. He was despised by his own people, who believed that diseases and sickness were punishment upon those who sin against God. So now the Son of Timaeus is screaming toward the Son of David. He did not see Him, but he could feel His presence.
There was so much noise and confusion around him. But he heard from afar the voice of the Son of David, the very King, the Savior. All he needed was mercy. "Teacher, let me see again!" His prayer was answered. And when Jesus healed him, Bartimaeus saw Jesus standing next to him. He then followed Jesus.
Mark wrote this gospel for the early Christians who lived in Rome. Life under Nero was not easy. Christians of the first century were persecuted. We do not know exactly what Mark had in mind when he wrote the passage. Yet certainly Mark had something to tell his readers about seeing. God who opened the eyes of Bartimaeus may also open the eyes of the believers, when they cry out to Him, to see what they need to see.
And what does God want us to see?
God wants us to see that amidst all the troubles and confusions in the world, God exists and God is in control.
God wants us to know that there is hope. God wants us to claim his Son as our Lord and Savior, our Healer. When we seek Him, we shall find Him. God wants us to accept His love and receive His mercy and grace. Jesus can open our eyes so that we may see God’s wonderful work in the world around us.
All are blind. All are loved. All bear the image of God. God’s salvation and forgiveness is for all.
As a father of four children, I sometimes ask myself how best to lead them in following our Lord. Perhaps there is no perfect answer for my question, but I told myself that the less mistakes the better. No matter how busy, I don't want to neglect my children. Food on the table alone is not enough. They need my attention. They need to learn the habit of worship, giving worship at church the priority on Sunday. They need to learn about what is right and what is wrong early on in their lives. I am aware that what I say at the dinner table, and what I do in my daily life, have been observed by my children. My words and action can be indelibly recorded in their brains. I may try to find excuses, but today's lesson can be a call to repentance.
The Christ who opens the eyes of the blind can make us see our own iniquities. I have the responsibility to make the Mark story known to my children: God loves them and God can open their eyes -- their minds, their hearts -- to see that God is always beside them, and that there is the hope of resurrection, no matter how difficult life can be.
Time and again, the questions in the liturgy for baptism come back to us: "Do you promise to renounce evil?" "Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving you neighbor as yourself?" "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?"
The Son of David, who once touched the Son of Timaeus, can touch us today, to give us new vision of life, and to fill us with His love, hope and joy. Amen.