Mark 10:46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.

Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52

What do you want Jesus to do for you? What do you ask for when you pray?

The story says “Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

60,000 people gathered in downtown Houston last week. Their gathering echoed others all over the country. They gathered as a visible sign of the invisible poison that clogs the heart of American idealism. They gathered to protest the blindness of a country where far too many are blind and far too many refuse to see. They gathered in the memory of the needless death of a man whose family will never see him again.

This month we commemorate the murders of nine children of God gathered for a Bible study. They were killed by a young man who they welcomed into their study, not knowing that the hate in his heart would flow through the gun that he brought to kill them all. Less than a month later, after 54 years of spitting on the African American citizens of South Carolina, the treasonous confederate flag was removed from their state house.

This week, the dirt still fresh over George Floyd’s grave, comes the news that the highest levels of the military were considering changing the names of ten military installations all named in honor of confederate soldiers until our duly elected president publicly shut the idea down. None are as blind as those who refuse to see.

The local high school in my neighborhood was named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee. It is now called Wisdom High School. Given that only 8% of high school students in the Houston school district are white – this is what white flight looks like in real time – it was the right thing to do. It was a change that meant something to the students at Wisdom given that its student body is 95% non-white. Does school segregation still exist? You would have to be blind to miss it.

The crowd told Bartimaeus to shut his mouth. To them, he was a distraction. He was making a scene. Jesus heard Bartimaeus’ cries above the crowd because Jesus’ ears were always open to the cries of the distressed, possessed, and oppressed, stopped in his tracks. “Call him here.” Jesus wanted to help him see.

Bartimaeus knew exactly what he wanted from Jesus. He knew exactly what he prayed for. “My teacher, let me see again.”

The utter blindness to racism that rages across our country will never lift until those who cannot see, and those who refuse to see, join in Bartimaeus’ prayer. A new day will dawn when white people cry out “Let Me See” with the same passion and resolve as black people crying out “Let Me Breathe” – no matter how many others in the crowd tell them to shut their mouths.

Let us pray: Healer of the nations, healer of the universe, heal us from the inside out. That our eyes might truly see as yours. That our ears might be as finely tuned to the cries of the oppressed as yours. Do spiritual surgery on us that we might join you in your mission of healing and love for all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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