There’s much talk about sight, seeing, and the opening of eyes in this week’s RCL readings. I must say that sometimes I’m uncomfortable preaching from stories about the blind gaining (or regaining) their sight. Not being disabled or differently-abled myself, I have a pastoral concern about hermeneutics that haven’t been sensitive to those with disabilities. I’m probably not the only one concerned about that, but let’s sit with the readings and see where Spirit leads.

In the first reading, Jeremiah prophesies about the restoration of Israel’s fortunes after a period of exile, and the “blind and the lame” are explicitly named among them. That could preach a word of inclusion of the vulnerable. The alternate reading from Job shows us a post-whirlwind Job who now “sees” with his own eyes a God who he had previously only known abstractly. His eyes —  literally and figuratively — are opened to new realities.

The 126th Psalm, a song sung on the way to pilgrimage, also speaks of restoration of fortunes. There’s no talk of physical ailments, but rather emotional ones. An entire community has been grieving, but hopes, prays, reminisces, and expects God to bring them to a place of healing and restoration.

The high priest language in Hebrews may recall for us the Levitical priesthood qualifications; perfection in every way (including physical perfection — no disabilities). In contrasting the priesthood of Jesus and that of humans, humans are ostensibly absolved of those expectations of perfection, which could be good news preached. Christ’s wholeness trumps our brokenness.

Finally, there’s the story of “Blind Bartimaeus” (we love his alliterative nickname), whose physical sight is restored by Jesus. And yet, the curious thing about this story — and something we often miss — is that from the beginning Bartimaeus was able to recognize Jesus in a way that all the sighted people around him apparently could not, which is why he couldn’t be silenced. He’s not blind to everything, especially not to the abilities of Jesus. In restoring Bartimaeus’ physical sight, Jesus lets everyone else around them see who he is for themselves, just like Job. Bartimaeus wasn’t the only one who received their sight that day.

Where are you going with this week’s texts? What are you exploring? With what are you still wrestling?

9 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Eye Spy

  1. Thanks! Your words about Bartimaeus are helpful. I’m preaching at a pulpit supply congregation that has invited me to do both communion and baptism this week (very exciting for supply preachers!). So I’m thinking of putting Bartimaeus and the sacraments in conversation, as “visible means of an invisible grace” seems to be what BB is able to see. The title is “Seeing Grace.” Those are my early thoughts. A variety of circumstances mean that I’m probably going to need to write this thing early this week (“early” meaning before Saturday, for me). So i need to get cracking.

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  2. What caught my attention from the passage this week was Jesus saying “Go, your faith has made you well”. Well not healed, whole or regain sight etc. But instead well. So I am wrestling with what that means.

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    1. This point – the difference between “well” and “sighted” – is significant for me, as our liturgist/reader for this week is, in fact, blind. This is her FAVORITE gospel passage, because, to her, it doesn’t read that Bart got his sight back, but that he is made well and follows Jesus – he is made fully a part of the Way, without explicit mention of regaining physical sight. The sight of his heart is what leads him to faith and to recognize Jesus for who he really is.

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  3. I was struck by Jesus asking, “What do you want me to do for you?”, because it is almost the exact same question he asked James and John last Sunday. Noticing is one thing, knowing what the devil to do with that observation is quite another.

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