Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"What do you want me to do for you?"

Jake and Neytiri in Avatar
“I see you,” Jake says to the tall, blue-skinned, native woman, Neytiri, in the futuristic, sci-fi epic movie Avatar. The greeting implies a connection beyond seeing with only the eyes.

The phrase “I see you” is used throughout the film to communicate a deep respect for the whole being. Not only does Jake learn to truly see Neytiri, but he also learns that deep-seeing leads to revering the interconnectedness in all of life. (Liz Budd Ellmann, Mdiv)

Jake, a former Marine, now wheelchair bound, enters into the “Avatar” project and has to choose between following the orders of his commanders to destroy a sacred forest where the Tree of Souls exists in the distant world of Pandora or not. This is a holy place where the Na’vi people connect with their ancestors. In a moment of inner awareness and compassion, he visits the Tree of Souls and desires wisdom to discover his true self . . . he is welcomed and seen for who he truly is . . . a “warrior” of truth, mercy, and hope!

I suppose you are wondering what this introduction has to do with the story of Blind Bartimaeus in our Sunday Gospel? There are a cast of characters in this story, some desiring to see, others desiring to be seen. However, it is Jesus who truly sees with a laser-like vision  a “deep respect for the whole being” of all whom he meets on his journey toward Jerusalem.

Jesus is surrounded by his disciples, and some “groupies” who act as security guards. Possibly some consider themselves the “in-group”.  Or some may have been healed or forgiven by Jesus. And yet, there are those in the crowd who see what they want to see and sort out who Jesus should see. They seem to be in charge of “crowd control” and they tell Bartimaeus to keep quiet. Could it be that they are “blind” as well?

Now Bartimaeus has a prime “box seat” right at the edge of the city where many people pass by. A strategic position for someone who needs alms, food, or any other small treasures that will sustain his life for one more day. His hearing is keen and he becomes aware that Jesus of Nazareth is here. Possibly he has heard of this man of miracles. He shouts to Jesus desiring mercy and compassion. He seems to “see” with his eager spirit and anxious heart. He doesn’t give up and calls to Jesus again . . . and this time Jesus stops and asks the crowd to bring Bartimaeus to him. Upon Jesus’ request, this crowd immediately has their eyes opened as well as their minds and hearts. Could it be that now they, too, truly see Bartimaeus with a deep respect for his whole being?

It is said that he threw off his cloak and sprang up. This has to be pure God energy. Who of us can sit for hours and all of a sudden throw off our “securities” and spring up to our feet to stand tall in our very selves?  Having abandoned all his possessions, he now stands before Jesus in his nakedness and vulnerability. Jesus truly sees him with a deep respect and honors him by asking him what he desires. The beggar responds, “I want to see.”  According to some commentaries, the Greek translation has “to look up” as the response.  In other words, Bartimaeus desires to look up and all around him so that he no longer needs to be limited to a certain space, or way of living, or be a recipient of ridicule, or not be seen for who he truly is.

Just another aside, I couldn’t help but think of Pope Francis making his way through the crowds of Cuba, Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.  He stopped often because he saw so many “Bartimeaus” like people reaching out to be touched, heard, prayed over, and seen!

So what is the Good News for us as we prepare for this Sunday’s Gospel?

Let us look up and all around us to see with a deep respect all those whom we may unconsciously pass by. Let us respond to them saying: “I see you.” And may we grow in our learning “that deep-seeing leads to revering the interconnectedness in all of life.”

Let us ask God to truly see us, and give us sight to where we most need healing, forgiveness, and unconditional loving kindness. 

Let us be open to stand tall in God’s grace as we hear the words of invitation, “What do you want me to do for you?” . . . because God says, “I see you.”

Something opens our wings.
Something makes boredom and hurt disappear.
Someone fills the cup in front of us:
We taste only sacredness.


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