Of Casting Off Mantles
Sunday brings the Gospel of Blind Bartimaeus who cried out to Jesus who called Bartimaeus to him, and Blind Bartimaeus “casting off his mantle” came to him. The New Revised Standard translates it as “throwing off his cloak.” See Mark 10.
In ancient Israel, people usually wore at minimum of single undergarment that was usually like a onesie, like babies still wear, only without buttons. We are told at his crucifixion that Jesus’s was woven as one piece. But it was the outer garment, called a cloak or mantle, that was an important marker of identity.
Think about how you know your friends’ coat. Here in Phoenix you may not, but in Michigan your normal coat was with you everyday almost the whole year. It became identified with you. You would know someone’s coat. In Jesus’s time the same thing was true. You knew someone by their cloak, and often their cloak told you something about them.
Today, if you see a suit in certain cities, you know you have found a lawyer or a politician or a banker. Some coats are even more specific, like police or fire or doctors.
Your mantle was your identity. Imagine throwing off your identity and running to Jesus.
In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard writes, “The secret of seeing is, then the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all.”
Fortunately we are not following a lunatic, but rather the savior of the world. So then, why do we hang on to our mantles? Our identities? Affiliations? Memberships?
What would it mean for you to come to Christ first, before anything else?
As we enter the season of Stewardship, we often think in terms of money. Sometimes we expand that to talk about time, talent, and treasure. But I am asking you to think about who you are and whose you are.
Here at Christ Church of the Ascension, our work is to Know, Love, and Serve Christ. Commit to doing that and being that here with us.
You will find that when you have let go of everything else, and stand before him in just who you are; you will find that you are loved beyond all your mantles, identities, affiliations, and memberships. You will find that you are loved and called to love, and that you are not alone.
the Very Rev. Daniel P. Richards
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona