by Tim Nafziger
In today’s first reading from the gospel of Mark (10:32-34), Jesus tells his disciples the humiliation is coming. He is telling them that he, their beloved teacher will die at the very bottom of society, condemned by the 1% of the 1%. And most unbelievably, he is leading them towards this end that they all must have feared most.
This year, Holy Saturday falls on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, a man who moved forward with thread of death hanging above him. The Holy Week of Resistance movement is making connections between these two men in actions like this one in Los Angeles, California. In this video in support of the actions, Cornel West describes how it is made up of “black and brown youth in the heart of American empire who have decided to rise up” in the face of crucifixion by trigger happy police departments. West points us to Jesus’ promise to rise at the end of verse 34. In Jeremiah 33:10-16, we see this same hope of restoration and resurrection linked with the restoration of righteousness and justice through the enduring love of God.
As I think about joining the April 4 march in LA led and organized by “Black & Brown Lives United,” I need to reflect carefully on my role as a white person. This is where Jesus’s conversation with Bartimaeus is so important. For the last few years I’ve been a part of the Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries community inspired by Jesus’ granting of vision to Bartimaeus. BCM holds that to follow in this way we must “face our personal and political blindness to the realities of human suffering, as well as to God’s horizons of justice.”
In this story I see a deep challenge to take off the blinders that whiteness has put on my eyes. Blindness to the way police assume the best in me rather than the worst. Blindness to the way my skin color opens the door to economic opportunity. Blindness to the way my story and image are “normal” American while everyone else is hyphenated. Next Saturday, I feel called to listen to those around me and pray for healing of my eyes.
Tim Nafziger is a Mennonite writer, photographer and web developer who lives in the Ojai valley in California. Tim’s vocation is cross-pollination and working with small groups of people committed to social change like the Carnival de Resistance where he is part of the organizing team.