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Lent 4 A (Scrutiny Readings) ~ "Open Eyes" ~ Susan McGurgan, D.Min

When I was in grade school, our Brittney Spaniel reached up to snatch a ball I was tossing, and her claw scratched my cornea. During the repair work, the eye doctor discovered that I was seriously nearsighted. In retrospect, this was not a surprise. Old photos show me squinting up from my crib, squinting on Santa’s lap, squinting in a Brownie uniform, squinting on the softball field, even squinting upside down from the monkey bars. I had been nearsighted from birth.


I had never seen what others saw and accepted my blurred vision as normal. Putting on corrective lenses for the first time, I entered a staggering new landscape; a new way of being in the world.


I never knew we should see individual leaves or single blades of grass, read the names on the back of Tulsa Oiler’s uniforms, or add the numbers on the chalk board from beyond row two. I never thought to ask, and no one thought to tell me.   


But through these lenses, everything transformed.


Colors were brighter, shapes sharper, experiences more real and raw. I could now see beauty and ugliness in 20/20 focus. I became immersed in people and situations that just yesterday, had been mere smudges on the edges of life. It was a different world when I put on those lenses, and for a long time it was disorienting.

I had visual vertigo.

My view shifted and my internal gyroscope sometimes twisted sideways or upside down. To be honest, there were days I wanted to lose my cat’s-eye frames (with rhinestones in the corners) and return to the safe and familiar world of blurs and smudges.   


I was looking at the reality that had always surrounded me. Nothing in the landscape was new. Nothing had been added, subtracted, or changed, but my perspective shifted.


My eyes opened.

My vision cleared.


I cannot fully imagine how Bartimaeus felt, seeing light, seeing color, seeing shape for the first time, but I understand something of the disorientation and visual vertigo—the uneasy feeling of reality shifting underfoot like quicksand—that Bartimaeus must have experienced.


One of the first things he saw was Jesus— the One who brought light into darkness. The One who created color and shape and form. The One who invited him into a staggering new dimension. And one of the first questions he faced was:


What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?


What do you have to say about him?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?


In fact, that’s the only question that really matters to Bartimaeus…and to us.  What do we have to say about him?  When we encounter Christ along the side of the road, and accept His offer of healing, sight, life, relationship; when we put on the lens of Christ and see the world through new eyes, it can be exhilarating, transformative, perhaps even disorienting.

When this happens, what do we have to say about him?


With new eyes, we can see the holiness that permeates everyday life—the sacredness of food, work, friendship, family.  With new eyes, we can recognize our covenant partner—creation—and see the divine spark animating every creature and all of creation. With the ability to see clearly, we might even find the courage to go out to the crossroads and margins, to journey with those who have been left behind to beg at the side of the road.  


“What do you have to say about him since he opened your eyes?”  


As we continue to ask and answer this question, there are times when we have to stop and reflect on who opened our eyes and what we are now able to see--the great beauty as well as great brokenness. Periodically, we must pause, adjust our lenses, look out over whatever Jerusalem, or Calvary, or wilderness, or paradise, or roadside rest stop that lies before us and consciously embrace and give thanks for this new vision; this new ability to see and respond. We must stop, and ask, "What do I have to say about him, since he opened my eyes?"

There may be times when we don't feel very thankful--days we want to lose our new eyes; toss our cat's eye frames (with rhinestones in the corners) and scurry back to the safe and limited world of world of smudges and blurs. New vision can be challenging--even scary. There will be days when our internal gyroscopes feel twisted sideways or upside down. On those days, we must be patient with ourselves and each other, encouraging and loving each other, remembering that what God restores, God will never abandon. The God who opens eyes, can also open hearts and hands. Our eyesight has been restored. Our blindness has been lifted and despite any fear or hesitation, this gift requires a response.


What do we say about him since he opened our eyes?  


What praise do we offer?

What testimony do we share?

What gratitude do we express?


Today, the question asked of Bartimaeus is asked of each of us. It is the same question that echoes from Caesarea Philippi, “Who do you say that I am?” It is the same question we must answer day in and day out as we choose to live as disciples… or not.


What do you have to say about him? Bartimaeus called him a prophet.

Jesus himself gave us other answers:   

I am the light.

I am the vine.

I am the gate.

I am the bread.

I am the resurrection.

I am the good shepherd.

I am the way, the truth, and the life.

 I am.  


What do you have to say about him?

We are given a chance to answer this this question every time we participate in the Supper of the Lord. As we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we respond, “Amen.” The root of this Hebrew word, Amen, means to be firm, to be confirmed, to be reliable. In responding, “Amen” to the offer of the Body and Blood, we are also saying, “So be it! Yes, it is true! I confirm this!"


When we say, “Amen”

we say with the Centurian on Calvary,

“Truly this is the Son of God” 

We say with Thomas,

“My Lord and my God!” 

We say with Mary Magdalene,

“Rabboni” which means Master. 

We say with Peter,

“You are Christ, Son of the Living God.”

Amen.  We say, Amen!

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