My Rabbi


Lord that I Might See
“Lord, That I Might See Again.” Unidentified artist (1970). Matyas Church, Budapest, Hungary

Scripture: 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 Rabbi, 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.

Reflection:  Bartimaeus is described as a blind beggar. He occupies a low status on the socio-economic rung of his community and can only sustain himself by depending on the charity of others. His begging is annoying to some. His physical presence in public spaces is an eyesore. Strangers dare to order him around with stern voices expectant of Bartimaeus’ compliance.

While others tried to suppress Bartimaeus and his cries, Jesus heard him, stood still and stopped to attend to him; or as we refer to it, Jesus stops to “serve” Bartimaeus.

The challenging aspect for us in positions of power is that Jesus dignifies and humanizes lowly and devalued Bartimaeus as a person of integral and sacred worth, a child made in the image of God, and a vital member of the community. By asking him what he wants, Jesus does not presuppose that he knows what is best for Bartimaeus. Instead, Jesus recognizes Bartimaeus’ individual autonomy and dignity and affords him the opportunity to decide for himself. Jesus thereby hands over to Bartimaeus not only the power to decide for himself but the accessibility to the abundant resources Jesus can provide for Bartimaeus. Jesus subordinates himself to the full disposal and service to Bartimaeus. Jesus is no longer controlling the outcome of the encounter, Bartimaeus is.

Even in his physical blindness, Bartimaeus recognizes (sees) not only the power granted to him by Jesus to decide for himself and request resources, but he also acknowledges a new teaching by Jesus. He calls Jesus “my Teacher” or “my Rabbi” signifying that he acknowledged the new teaching.  Bartimaeus recognizes that Jesus is teaching how human relationships in the Kingdom of God should look like when those in power subordinate themselves and their resources in service that seeks the welfare and empowerment of the vulnerable, marginalized, and the voiceless. Indeed, this is new teaching!

Bartimaeus makes a wise request and asks to see again. Jesus grants his request. Bartimaeus physical vision is restored. Then Jesus instructs Bartimaeus to Go! But instead, Bartimaeus follows Jesus, his Healer, his Savior, his Teacher on the way. Bartimaeus regains not only his physical sight but a new Kingdom vision that calls him to a new way of living out Jesus’s teaching. That way is the way to the cross, a cross-formed life of service to humanity that sees and stops to serve others in the lower rungs of society in a way that affirms their dignity and worth as a child of God, that seeks their wellbeing and empowers them to see the beauty of Jesus and live with hope again.


Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22) I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. O
magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed. This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all. He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken. Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life
of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be

The Scent of Life

Ash TreeScripture 

“For there is hope for a tree if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.” (Job 14:7-9)


The young wind-beaten Ash tree planted in our front lawn lay on its side after it was pushed over and uprooted by hurricane force winds in the early 70’s.  I saw it and could only imagine all the work it would take to cut the tree into manageable pieces so that we could either burn it or haul it off and dispose of it in the city dump. Dad, however, saw possibility in the overturned tree. The next day, he called for a caterpillar tractor to help pull and reset the tree back into place. We sawed off the splintered branches and several snapped roots. We filled the cavity left by the uprooted tree with water, set the tree back in its place, and covered the base of the tree with fresh soil. For the first couple of weeks, the bruised and broken tree struggled to survive. The trauma of the violent uprooting and the sawing of branches and roots caused the tree to go into shock and shed its leaves. At one point, we thought it wouldn’t survive, but we just kept watering it. Eventually, the roots found new life and strength in the soil because of the nourishment of the water. Then new branches and leaves started to sprout from the cutoff stumps. The ash tree grandly stands today. It is over 60 years old and its canopy provides a cool shade over mom and dad’s lawn and home during the 100-degree plus South Texas summer weather.

Job had experienced severe trauma and setbacks in his life. He lost his children, his possessions, his health, and his social dignity. He is the depths of despair. Now he struggles with the inevitability of his own mortality. He reflects on how traumatized trees can come back to life at the scent of water. “But,” he resigns himself to the fact that, “mortals die, and are laid low, humans expire, they lie down and do not rise again, the will not awake or be roused out of their sleep.” (Job 14:10, 12) Job’s mind and spirit, as William Cowper wrote, is “buried above ground, encompassed with a thousand dangers, weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors.”

Still, the life of God in him draws him to the scent of life, Jesus Christ, his living water and redeemer. He has a budding intuitive assurance that there must be life, even in the grimmest of human circumstances, and that death will not have the final word over his life. He has the emerging assurance that his life will be redeemed by Christ his Redeemer. He later says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and after my skin has been destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

Sometimes our lives are overturned by overwhelming and unexpected conditions and events. We can easily fall into despair as we count the losses and remember and long for how things used to be. Moments like these will try our faith and our hope in a better future. But, we are a people that by the Holy Spirit in us can scent hope in new life and possibility in Christ our living water. Our scent for new life and possibility is grounded in the assurance that God knows our situation, God hears us when we speak, and that God will ultimately answer, redeem, and restore us.


A Prayer for Hope

Heavenly father, I am your humble servant, I come before you today in need of hope. There are times when I feel helpless, there are times when I feel weak. I pray for hope.
I need hope for a better future. I need hope for a better life. I need hope for love and kindness. Some say that the sky is at it is darkest just before the light.
I pray that this is true, for all seems dark. I need your light, Lord, in every way.
I pray to be filled with your light from head to toe. To bask in your glory.
To know that all is right in the world, as you have planned, and as you want
it to be. Help me to walk in your light and live my life in faith and glory.
In your name, I pray, Amen.