Dear Cathedral Family,
“Need help,” reads the battered hand-lettered sign held by the man at the corner of Catherine and Government Streets. You sit in your car, waiting for the light to change. What is your response to his sign? Skepticism? Distrust? Fear? Disgust? Most of us find it hard to ask for help; we have been taught not to. And so we look askance at those who do.
One of the American virtues, going back to Emerson and beyond, is self-reliance. We respect people who “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.” We admire folks who DIY their home improvement projects. Among Christians, it is often said, “God helps those who help themselves.” That may not mean exactly what we think.
Consider Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, whom we meet in this Sunday’s gospel lesson. He was like that man with the “need help” sign. Bartimaeus sat by the side of the road leading out of Jericho to Jerusalem and begged from the people passing by. When he heard that Jesus was walking along the road, he called out, repeatedly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped. He did the equivalent of rolling his window down, and asked Bartimaeus to approach. Throwing off his begging cloak, the blind man ran to Jesus, who asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked to see again. Jesus said, “Go, your faith has made you well.” And Bartimaeus regained his sight and “followed him on the way.”
The gospel truth is that you can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. The grace of God must come first. You have to ask for help. Job learned this from God. Bartimaeus claimed his healing from Jesus. His story illustrates Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
What do you need in your life right now? DO something about it. Ask, and claim what is offered.