For 1 April 2020: Sixth Wednesday of Lent
Read: Matthew 20:29-34
The seasonal pond is shrinking again. I’m not sure if the Mallards are swimming or walking. It looks as if it is a little of both. I don’t worry about the pond drying up. All I have to do is look to the western sky to see the signs that rain is coming; the rain will fill the pond for my seasonal friends. I will admit, I wonder what happens to the ducks after the pond dries up. To what other body do they fly? Where do they make their nest? All I know of them is this brief encounter out my back door. There’s so much about them I don’t know. I do know this: Their presence is a welcome sign of the coming warmer months.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus encounters people of whom we never hear again. What happened to the woman at the well (John 4)? What about the two fellows in this reading from Matthew 20; what happened to them? All we know is that “Jesus, moved with pity, touched their eyes. Their sight returned immediately, and they followed him” (Matthew 20:24, TIB). Some commentators suggest that one of the two men is Bartimaeus, the blind man healed in one of the stories in Luke’s gospel. Even if one of them is, we still know little about this other one who was blind now made to see other than he believed and followed Jesus.
I don’t really need to know what happens to the ducks who visit the pond and then disappear with the disappearing water. I’m simply glad they return. I need to know the Mallards have returned to this ponding in the backyard for years. My predecessors have all spoken about the Mallards which grace the backyard. I trust they will return next Spring. For now, enjoying them visiting is enough. I don’t need to know what happens with these two who are healed. I don’t need to know what happened to those fellows other than after encountering the Christ they believed and followed.
They were healed. This restored them to whatever place they had in society before they were blind. This allowed them to worship at the Temple fully. This allowed them to fully participate in the life of the religious and larger secular community. In other words, their encounter with Jesus restored them to a place in society, whatever it was, before their blindness. This physical inability made them outsiders and excluded. They were perceived as “less than.” Their encounter with Christ is both a physical healing but one which is a social healing as well. Again, their lives witness to the transformative power of encountering Jesus, the Christ.
The witness from the Scriptures is that upon encountering the Christ, these fellows were healed. The witness from the Scriptures is that these fellows believed and followed Jesus, whom they believed to be the Messiah. This is the witness of the Scriptures; what is the witness of their lives? It doesn’t matter what happened to those fellows after the encounter. They believed and followed; they followed Jesus with transformed lives. How does our life witness to the transformative power of God in our own experience? How do our encounters with the Risen Christ transform us?