Thursday, February 12, 2009

Luke 18:31-43 - Quinquagesima (Feb. 22, 2009)

Do you know yourself? Simple question, isn't it? When you leave here today will you know who you are and in terms of your relation to friends, family, the community?

So much of Jesus' ministry in those ancient times was in trying to make people see things differently. A business psychologist in college once stated the definition of what it takes to be great to us, his students.

He stated that a great person makes the whole world turn around and look at the world differently. Great men and or great women move the world. They change the world. My teacher cited the examples of Einstein, Gandhi, Darwin, Buddha and of course Jesus to name a few.

It is a crowded field for great people. The world is changed not every decade these days but every day. I detest the term 24/7 because it connotes business every hour of the day, seven days a week. When do we rest from the labors of our life? Even God rested on the seventh day.

Indeed, the secular nature of our culture pushes out, eradicates or even discounts the value of things that some of us can remember. Half a century ago, there was little or no business done on a Sunday. Sunday was for family and a rest from the everyday workaday world and a day for church. God is not that important anymore to the secular world. God and or Jesus have to be in the secular rat race of life everyday to get any recognition or respect. It is a sad commentary on our times.

I look back at the past and am not all that nostalgic for it. Rather, I am looking down the road to better days ahead. What we here today are doing is recognizing the greatness of God and his Son and his mission to earth. How great thou art. How great thou art indeed.

In the opening reading from Samuel, it would appear that God was not happy with King Saul and he is telling Samuel to go to Bethlehem and seek out a son of Jesse. Samuel is to anoint this son of Jesse with oil. God is looking for a new ruler of his chosen people. And going back to my opening question - do you know yourself? - I think that perhaps God saw beyond Saul's great abilities to be a king and warrior. Perhaps he saw into the heart of the man and knew that Saul was not fit for the job or was losing his grip.

Time for change is coming down the road. Why not let a few people starting with the prophet Samuel know that change was coming in the form of King David. King David would one day lay the foundation stones of the first temple not by building the temple itself but by choosing Jerusalem as a permanent Jewish city and a permanent home for the wandering Ark of the Covenant. His son Solomon built the temple. David picked its location.

Jesus, perhaps in his temporary role as prophet, is standing there in front of his apostles and telling them what is about to happen to him. He is to be taken by gentiles, mocked and killed. And in three days he will rise. Their eyes glaze over. They do not see what he sees. No doubt Jesus might have been thinking this about his Apostles - Do you know yourself? Do you know who you are? Do you really know who I am?

Communication then was as difficult as it can be today. There is the theme of the great man to make others see the world differently. Besides predicting the future, Jesus is trying to make people to stop looking at outward appearances. He is in so many ways trying to appeal to people to look inside to what their hearts tell them. He is in so many ways trying to tell people to change religious beliefs from rules and outward appearances and obsolete rituals.

Saint Paul in first Corinthians thirteen is evaluating perhaps his own person and the human condition as well. It is difficult to turn around and to see ourselves differently. But in Jesus, in his teachings, in his grace from on high, we can change our lives in so many ways. Go thy way and sin no more. Recognize our faults, our sins, ask forgiveness, receive forgiveness. Change the way the world sees us. Move the world! Be a great new person.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels - and have not love, I am nothing.

Jesus is traveling and there are the crowds following him. The quiet of the country side is disturbed. Crowds, noise, talking, shouting. The circus has come to town? No. Just Jesus. Just Jesus?! More like the most truly greatest show on earth that has ever been or ever will be this side of eternity.

A blind man hears the hubbub and asks who is in town? To which they reply Jesus of Nazareth. The man is excited. Jesus' reputation has preceded him. Like Samuel looking to anoint a new up and coming king, most of the prophets of the old testament talk in some futuristic way of this man and his mission, of this special anointed by God man, of this Jesus.

The blind man is shouting. He wants attention. He wants something from Jesus. The blind man who cannot see shouts and anoints Jesus with a proper title - "Jesus, Son of David". Finally the blind man gets the direct attention of Jesus. And Jesus says something remarkable as far as I am concerned. He asks the blind man what he wants from Jesus.

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

It should be obvious. The blind man wants to see. Right? Or does he? Do you know yourself? Does the blind man know himself? Jesus does not assume that the blind man wants to see. So he asks. The blind man might want forgiveness for some wretched sins from his past. He might have wanted something for his child or grandchild.

Jesus looks the blind man in the eyes and asks. What do you want me to do for you? The blind man asks to be able to see. Jesus restores his sight with the words "You are healed because you believed".

Do you know yourself? Do others know you? What do they see? What do you feel? What is inside of you? What do you want from Jesus? These are fair questions. Only you have the answers. Faith can cure you. Restore you. Change the way you look and see the world.

From Jesus today I want the whole world to turn around and look first at themselves and to see themselves inside and out in a different manner. I want you to be great people. I want you as Christians to change the world. That is what Jesus wants from each and every one of us. Not too much to ask. Is it?

How great thou art! How great thou art!

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