Leaving it all behind

25 October 2009
Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 25B (RCL)

Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52

The prose ending of Job almost ruins the book for me. God’s appearance to Job in the whirlwind is enough. But to have everything restored, like that makes up for what was lost just seems heartless. When I lived in Boston, I attended Church of St. John the Evangelist on Beacon Hill. The Church had a daily soup and sandwich program from 1 – 3 each afternoon. For a year or two I volunteered every Friday afternoon. There was a regular named Sleepy Joe. We were never under any circumstances to let the “clients” into the building, but one day Sleepy Joe talked his way past me. He helped me hand out sandwiches and soup. Over the course of the next year, I let him in every Friday. Sometimes he would help me make soup, or play cribbage with me. He told me his story (as much as one could believe it — everyone has a story). He had been a produce supplier to many of the downtown cafeterias until a teamsters’ strike had broken his company. Since then, he had lived somewhere (he would never say where) in North Station. He wasn’t a drunk (I never smelled it on him), and according to him, he had family, but he just chose not to take the help they offered. He was not bitter. This was just how things had turned out. It seems a more honest ending than Job’s story. Job says early in the book, “If we accept the good from God’s hand, shouldn’t we also accept the ill?”

Bartimaeus: my favorite story. A resurrection appearance: Bartimaeus calls Jesus “Rabbouni” the same title Mary uses of Jesus in the garden — my dear teacher. Only occurs twice in the NT. Also, baptismal. Bartimaeus throws off his garments to meet Jesus in the midst of the crowd. Also calls him simply “Son of David” second time around — a title rather than a name. Bart is the only person in Mark’s Gospel who follows Jesus “on the way” toward Jerusalem. The only one who “sees” what that means. One wonders who Bartimaeus had been before he was a beggar. Was he a beggar because of his blindness. Who was Timaeus, his father? Plato wrote a dialog called the Timaeus, has to do with the vision of the ideal forms. Is Mark aware of that? Bartimaeus sees the ideal of the cross and follows Jesus toward it.

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