Anybody here old enough to remember in Star Trek the Romulan “cloaking device”, which the Klingons also got hold of? Anyone remember that?
If you are too young to remember that than maybe you can remember Harry Potter’s Invisibility cloak?
I mention this because of our Gospel today. Three Gospels tell us of the healing of a blind man in Jericho: Matthew, Mark and Luke. Today’s passage is from Mark. Mark is the shortest of the Gospels and woefully short on details. I would like to know what Jesus looked like. What did he like to eat? What was His favorite color? Mark tells us none of that. We get very few details in his Gospel. And yet in this story Mark, and Mark alone, gives us two interesting details. Only Mark tells us that the blind man’s name was Bartimaeus. And only Mark includes the curious detail that the blind man threw off his cloak before coming to Jesus.
I think we are supposed to pay attention to that cloak. What is that cloak all about, and more importantly, what about our cloaks?
Most of us have cloaks. They may not be physical, but we have ways of hiding, of cloaking things about ourselves from others and even from ourselves. I think Mark is pointing out that we have to get rid of, throw off these cloaks, in order to come to Jesus.
What are we trying to cloak? What do we want to hide? Well, whatever we see as ugly and unattractive about ourselves. We try to look better than we think we truly are.
We even cloak our individuality, all that makes us unique and different. Many young, and not so young, people just want to ‘fit in”, blend in with the crowd, not stand out, and so cloak over whatever is distinctive, unique, personal about themselves. They use the invisibility cloak of fitting in to become invisible in a way, no different from anyone else. No use drawing attention to yourself they think.
May be we try to cloak our past? Something we are ashamed of, something we really screwed up, some mistakes we are hiding so that people will not judge us and think less of us? We hide any parts of us we think shameful or bad.
We often cloak our weaknesses. We hide behind a cloak of bravado, of boasting, of blaming others, so that we won’t be found out for who we truly are. We pretend to be something we are not in order to hide from others, and from ourselves, our fragility, our weakness.
And a lot of us cloak our fears. We not only cloak them from others but from ourselves. Fears we don’t want to look at. Situations we can’t handle. Parts of our personality too painful to face. Anything we find distasteful and embarrassing. We cloak these fears over with many distractions – electronics, entertainment, frenetic activity, alcohol, drugs, pornography. All these are types of cloaks. We use them to make invisible things that are painful to face. They become our cloaking devices.
Well, sometimes cloaks are good. Sometimes we need them to protect us against the wind and rain. We should not wear our feelings on our sleeves, because some things are not to be public and shared.
But with Jesus it is different. With Jesus cloaks just get in the way. With Jesus we can safely and securely share not only the good, but also the bad, the shameful, the sad, the embarrassing, the odd, the different, the unusual, the funky, the ugly. We can – indeed must – share it all. //
Bartimaeus wanted to see. He wanted to become fully alive.
He wanted to live his full potential. He wanted to know, to understand, to get it, to see. He was tired of sitting on the side of the road and letting life pass him by.
So Bartimaeus calls out for Jesus. They try to silence him. He calls out even louder and more stridently, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus responds and calls him. Bartimaeus “threw aside his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus.” He “threw aside his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus.”
And Bartimaeus was healed. Bartimaeus is an example for us. That blind beggar can teach us a lot. If you are tired of missing out on what is really important, tired of sitting on the side of the road and letting life pass you by, if you really want to see what life is all about, if you want to know about God and who you are and whose you are, if you truly and deeply want to see, then follow the example of Bartimaeus.
Throw off your cloaks, your disguises, your efforts to hide and make obscure, open yourself to the light, jump up and come to Jesus. You will find welcome. You will find healing. You will find forgiveness. You will find peace.