I have been shopping for trees lately—apples, figs, maybe a few persimmons. It will be couple of years before the trees bare fruit and now, as we move into December the trees are dormant, reserving their sugars to live out a time when the sun won’t be around enough to power their life. The trees are moving to their reserve supplies; they are waiting until the spring. But at some point, when the conditions of rain and sun and a myriad of other factors come together, there will be a moment, one moment, when the trees will shoot forth leaves again. This will happen simultaneously for trees of the same species, in the same area, at similar elevations. Read more
“What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51). It’s a striking question Jesus asks Bartimaeus—a beggar sitting beside the road when Jesus passes by; a blind man whose pleas of “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” could not be suppressed. What kind of answer was Jesus expecting? Bartimaeus is a blind beggar; does Jesus expect an answer other than the one that Bartimaeus gives? He wants his sight back!
But Jesus doesn’t give him his sight back. He replies to Bartimaeus, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Jesus only reveals to Bartimaeus that it was Bartimaeus’s own faith that made him well.
To understand this passage better perhaps we should look back at the reading just preceding it from the Gospel last week. It was in this Gospel that the disciples argue about who should sit at the right and left hand of Jesus when he comes to power and are taught once again that it is the first who will be last and the last who will be first. The passage just following this story is the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Read more
A good farmer is one who knows what he can do and what he can’t. He can work the soil, build compost, mulch, but the growth of healthy plants is always at the mercy of conditions beyond him—the right amount of rain, the right weather at planting time, the right conditions at the harvest. The good farmer knows that a healthy crop is always both the product of hard work and a gift beyond any system of exchange.
We are brought to this paradox of gift and work by the lectionary readings for this Sunday as we wrestle with our relationship with God, the Law, and our hearts. Read more