Jesus stands before us today and eloquently details the first and second commandments. When we respond to him will he be able to affirm that we did so with understanding? Could Jesus, as he did the scribe, confidently tell us that we are not far from the Kingdom of God?
The physical healing of Bartimaeus is a powerful reminder that, when we open ourselves to God’s grace, we can be healed of that blindness of spirit that prevents us from following Jesus with freedom and joy, which is an important part of discipleship.
Christ did not become human to dominate others. He came to seek out the sick, the suffering, and the sinners. He came not only to instruct and heal us, but he suffered the cruelest death imaginable to open heaven to those who would believe.
Many of us can resonate with the response of these disciples — ‘amazed,’ and ‘exceedingly astonished,’ or from another perspective, shocked and perplexed — because they are our very own responses today when Jesus teaches.
Ten years ago, I wasn’t brave enough for Genesis, chapter two. A decade of marriage has shown me that this Scripture passage is not about subservience at all, but about belonging — and not just belonging within a marriage, but within the entire Body of Christ.
Today’s readings call us to examine the motives behind our actions, especially those that lead us away from God and towards sin. Not only looking at what obstacles keep us from growing spiritually but also when we are a stumbling block to the growth of other people’s faith.
We run into trouble when the goals associated with our understanding of success are self-serving rather than in service of the Kingdom of God. We are conditioned into obtaining privilege and status, we forget about matters of the soul and heart.
By telling us to “take up” our cross, Jesus isn’t saying that we have to meekly submit to unfair treatment and suffering or embrace a blind, “offer it up” sort of spirituality. And, while they may be opportunities for grace, illness, sad events or even disasters aren’t “the cross.”
Those whom Jesus heals cannot help but go around telling everyone they meet about the powerful prophet who restored them to health. For them, telling the story of Jesus’ healing power is part of the healing process itself.
God lets us choose Him. He does not trick us. He does not lie in wait. He does not blackmail or entrap us. His authority over us is the kind that never chafes, because it is entirely divorced from the concept of power. The choice to obey is ours.
How easily we can falter to believe, looking for signs and wonders as caveats of believing. Obstacles against seeing and accepting the truth of God’s promises fulfilled can mount daily if we fail to view the world with the eyes of a heart willing to see God at work.