Reflecton-Jack Young

“The Blind Man”
Jack Young
October 28, 2012

The Gospel for this morning is from MARK – Chapter 10: Verses 46-52.   I am confident most of you are familiar with these Verses….

“And they came to Jericho.  As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, blind Bartimeus, son of Timeus, sat by the highway begging.   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 teacher, 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.

Upon reflecting on this gospel – you might say that it is a “feel good” story, with a “happy ending”.   Hard to knock a story like that – wouldn’t you think???  

Well – in my Reflection this morning, I am going to raise a couple ofpoints for your consideration that relate to our Gospel lesson.

First, let me ask you….How important a role do “labels” play in yourlife?   When you go shopping – do you check out the label on the food product before you put it into your shopping cart?   Do you check out the label on the clothing garment before you decide to buy it?  No, I don’t mean the “size label” – I mean how important is the manufacturer’s label and where it was made?  Does it have to be a topof the line product – like an “Apple I-phone” or will you settle for something less?  Does that riding lawn mower have to be a John Deere? 

I think most of you sitting here this morning are saying to yourself….”Sure – the label is something I take into consideration when I make my decision – it influences how I react.

I would submit that the “words” we use to describe things and particularly “other people” are a type of label that we should thinkmore about . . . as we go about our daily life. 

But – you are probably saying to yourself – “What’s this all got to do with the Gospel lesson for this morning?   Here is the connection for ME – it has to do with an experience I had in when I was in about the 7th or 8th grade.   I grew up in a Christian family – attended church and Sunday school regularly.  My parents were actively involved in our church.  And during the summer months, it was customary for me and other members of our youth programs to go away for a week at Church Camp.  It was during one of those Summer Camp vesper services that a Minister spoke about -  “How he thought Jesus was such a special person and how Jesus treated people differently…in so many ways.

In particular, Reverend Lofgran –that was his name – made reference to the fact that Jesus concentrated on the person – the individual – and NOT on some other descriptive characterization.    He specifically cited how he thought Jesus would refer to a person who was blind.    He said that Jesus would say… ”Today, I saw a man who was blind.”

Jesus would NOT say that he saw a “blind man”.   That wording…that differentiation – made a BIG IMPRESSION on 13 year old JackYoung!   So much so that I have tried to apply that line of thinking inmy own life and how I interface with and describe other people.  

What I have noticed is that all too often – people have a naturaltendency to “put the cart before the horse” so to speak.   If YOU were referring to a person who could not hear – would you say, “She is a deafperson” OR would you say, “She is person who is deaf”?    Where do your words put the emphasis….on the PERSON or on the shortcoming that person might have?

If you want to gain a better appreciation of how important the sequence of the wording is….I would ask that you mentally put yourself on thereceiving end of such a comment!   Would you like to be referred to as a deaf person or a blind person?   Such a mental role reversal – makes this issue take on a much different and potentially demeaning characterization – wouldn’t you agree?  Have you ever thought about that?

It is reminencent of the old saying –“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names (labels) will never hurt me.”   It is my contention  -  that this old saying doesn’t hold true for me – not when I apply Reverend Lofgran’s advice that I took to heart – those many years ago! 

In my mind, the labeling of other people – particularly when carried to the extreme – can be hurtful and mean spirited.    How many times have you heard or read about how “names/labels” are cited in “bullying cases”? 

“But names will never hurt me”.   Oh yes, they CAN and they DO !!!

So – if I can direct your attention back to the Gospel lesson for today – you might not be surprised to hear me say . . . “That I don’t think Jesus would have recorded the day’s happenings the same way that Markdid? I am confident that Jesus would have referred to Bartimeus as a man who was blind – and – not as a “blind man”.

Now – I’m not suggesting that each time you read the Bible and you come across references to individuals where the words are reversed (i.e. there is a reference to a deaf person – vice a person who is deaf) that you must make the conversion/adjustment BUT what I would hope is that – in your day to day life – later this morning – tomorrow – this week - that you mentally remember just how important your word selection is when referring to others.  

As I was contemplating how to close my Reflection – Randy forwarded me a U-Tube video – titled “Blind Man”. . .  and he commented that I might be interested in it.   I watched the short video and considered it “most appropriate”.   I wish I could show it to you…. but I can’t!   So let me briefly describe the video for you.   Picture this setting in your mind’s eye.

The video opens with a man sitting on a blanket in front of some type of public building (it could well be a post office or a library).  He has a cup in front of him on his blanket and a sign sitting next to him which reads “I Am Blind – Can you help?”  People are walking by the man and occasionally a person will drop a couple of coins into his cup.   Then – a well dressed young woman walks by and observes the man – she pauses and returns to the man and takes his sign – turns it over – and writes something different on the sign – then places it next to the man.   What you observe next is that almost everyone passing by – stops and puts coins and some bills into the man’s cup.    Soon the lady who had revised his sign returns.  He asks her – What did you do to my sign?   She whispers to him that – “I changed it a little but it means the same thing”.   He thanks her and she walks away….and the camera pans down to the sign – she had changed it to read:  “It is a beautiful day, but I can’t see it!”   The screen goes dark and then these words appear - - -

CHANGE YOUR WORDS – CHANGE YOUR WORLD

That is my challenge to you for the week –

CHANGE YOUR WORDS – CHANGE THEIR WORLD !