Have Mercy on Me Too

Dear Will:

Today I turned on the air conditioner for the first time this year.  I admit that I felt a bit of trepidation as I reached for the switch, in part because a technician informed us last summer that the thing could die on us any minute, and in part because it reminded me of power shortages and rising rates.  My guess is it’s going to be a long sweaty summer.  So I don’t know about you, but I’m eager for the clouds to roll in and stay awhile.  I know: wishful thinking.

I’ve been looking forward to writing to you so that I could share with you something that moved me profoundly.  On Easter Sunday, my wife Dana had the daunting challenge of delivering the main message at our ward’s Easter service.  In spite of my obvious bias, I think I can state with some objectivity that hers was a truly extraordinary discourse, delivered with great insight and spiritual force.  So many people commented on it afterwards that I thought I would share some of it with you.

Here’s one short passage that is a sermon all by itself:

The day must have begun much like any other for blind Bartimaeus.  He probably arrived early at the main gate of Jericho, tapping his way along the familiar turns to get to the highway before the merchants, the donkeys, camels, women carrying pitchers of water on their heads.  There he would spend the day begging for bread, relying on the mercy of strangers to survive.  But on that day Bartimaeus heard the hubbub of a great multitude approaching, and he heard the news being passed along—“Jesus of Nazareth is coming.  The Messiah is here among us.” Bartimaeus, blind from birth, afraid of being trampled by the crowd, had only his ears and voice to find his Lord.  “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Repeatedly the people told him to be quiet.  But he only cried louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Bartimaeus was profoundly aware of the perpetual darkness in which he lived.  Unlike many who are lost in spiritual darkness, he knew the Savior was his only hope, and so he cried out again and again, until Jesus, hearing his cry, called Bartimaeus to come to him.

In 1981, the Los Angeles Times reported on a woman named Anna Mae Pennica, 62 years old, blind from birth.  A doctor from the Jules Stein Institute in Los Angeles performed surgery on Mrs. Pennica and removed the rare congenital cataracts from the lens of her left eye — and she saw for the first time ever.

The newspaper account tells us that since that day, Mrs. Pennica can hardly wait to get up every morning, put on her glasses, and enjoy the changing morning light.  Think how wonderful it must have been for Anna Mae Pennica when she looked for the first time at faces she had only felt, or when she saw the colors of the Pacific sunset, or a tree waving its branches, or a bird in flight.  The miracle of seeing for the first time after a lifetime of darkness can hardly be described. . . .

The first sight that Bartimaeus’s eyes fell upon was the face of Jesus—His eyes, His compassionate all-seeing eyes.  Can you imagine that? What would you do for that sight?  There is not one of us who does not need to cry out to the Savior, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Do you sometimes find it hard to see in the dark?  Do you feel the need to have your sight restored from time to time?  Do you, like Bartimaeus, cry out for the Lord’s mercy?  Is there a miracle of the heart for you in this story?

I hope there’s something in that simple tale for you as there was for me.


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