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Pentecost 22 Proper 25B RCL October 25, 2015

Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22)
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52

As we think about our opening reading, we remember that Job has lost everything. Yet he still has not lost his faith. He wants to see God and plead his case. Last week he had his encounter with God, and God asked Job and us, some searching questions: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind?”

Like most of us, Job has had an encounter with the transcendent God, the God who is beyond our imagining. Job has come to realize that he will never be able to understand God, because God is much bigger than we humans are,  and God is more powerful than we humans are. Job apologizes to God for his presumption. And God restores everything Job has lost, and gives Job even more than the abundance he already had.

When we go through those tough times, those times when God seems so far away, those times when everything seems dark and there is no hope to be found, times when we think we will never be able to find the light in the darkness, times when we lose things that are precious to us, and yet we keep searching for God, we hang on to whatever threads of faith we can find. We ask the prayers and support of friends—and most of us have much more helpful friends than Job’s so-called friends who blamed him for his plight—sometimes suddenly, sometimes gradually, the darkness lifts and our lives come back together again. And often our faith grows stronger after such times of struggle. Often, we grow stronger having walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Many times, when we have an experience like that, we come to a deeper realization that God was with us all the time.

In our gospel for today, we meet the blind man Bartimaeus. He cannot see. But he can hear Jesus and the disciples coming along the road. Bartimaeus shouts,“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” People tell him to be quiet, but he shouts even more loudly. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus stops. Jesus is always listening for our cries for help. “Call him here,” Jesus says.

So the people tell Bartimaeus, “Take heart, he is calling you.” Most of us are not totally blind, but there are many forms of blindness. Sometimes there are things we do not want to see, things we do not want to recognize and accept. They may be things about ourselves or they may be things about others or about situations. But when we call upon our Lord, he hears, and he stops to be with us.

The people tell Bartimaeus, “Take heart, get up, he is calling you.” When we are in a tough situation, and we have been groping along the best we can and we realize we can ask Jesus for help, that is a time when we can truly take heart. We have been muddling along the best we can, and suddenly we realize that Jesus is there to help us.

We can really take heart. Our spirits lift. There is light at the end of the tunnel after all.

Bartimaeus throws off his cloak, throws off all protection. He springs up and comes to Jesus. He has heard Jesus’ voice, and, though he is blind, he is able to make a bee-line for that voice.

Then Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” And Bartimaeus asks for his sight. Jesus does not even touch him. “Go, your faith has made you well.” What does Bartimaeus do? He follows Jesus. He becomes a disciple.

Sometimes when we are in blindness, and we have not seen some important things, and, gradually or suddenly, these things become very clear to us, sometimes it can be a shock. Our doctor gives us a dreaded diagnosis, or we see something dark in a situation we had thought was full of light, or someone we had trusted betrays us, or we lose a dear friend. And there Jesus is, asking what he can do for us.

It is so important to remember to ask him for his help.

In our reading from the Book of Job, we encounter the transcendent God, the God who is more powerful than we can imagine. In our gospel, there is God on our level. Jesus has come to be with us. Bartimaeus calls out for mercy, and Jesus has mercy on him and heals his blindness.

As the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, our Lord knows what it is to be human. He is fully human and fully divine. He has bridged the gap between the all-powerful God and the human level. He has made it possible for us to meet God as our brother and our savior, to see God face to face, and to ask and receive loving help from God.

This morning, Jesus is asking each of us, “What do you want me to do for you?” He is listening for our answer. He cares about each of us and about all of us together. Let us take some time this week and ask for his help. Amen.

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