Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52
Dear Friends! The healing of the blind man Bartimaeus in today’s gospel is much more than a simple miracle story. In today’s gospel, we see Jesus with his disciples and a large crowd leaving Jericho. A blind beggar, Bartimaeus is sitting beside the road. He hears all the noise, is told that Jesus is passing by, and begins to call out: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He must have heard stories about Jesus as a marvelous healer. However, the people around tell him to be quiet. After all, he’s only a poor beggar. He should not disturb an important person like Jesus.
In our life many people, things, and concerns prevent us coming to Jesus. How often we feel we “have no time” for Mass, prayer, getting involved in Church activities. But worse, how often have we blocked someone approaching Jesus? A child, a friend, a son or daughter who wants to give their life in service of others rather than a money-making “career”?
Bartimaeus continues to shout all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” His persistent prayer is answered. Jesus hears. Jesus stops. If the man had not kept calling, Jesus might have continued on his journey. Didn’t Jesus say, “Ask you will receive, seek you will find and knock it will be opened”?
How many times during our day does Jesus pass by and we fail to recognize him and fail to call him? The problem is that too often we have fixed ideas as to where we are likely to see him or the forms under which he will appear. It is easy to find him in the tabernacle but less easy in a person we do not like. But he can come in any form and in any person or situation, even the most unlikely.
“Call him over here,” says Jesus. Notice that Jesus does not go to the man. Nor does he call him directly. The people – those who just now were stopping him and telling him to shut up – are now giving him encouragement. That is how we come to know Jesus too. People call us to him or introduce him to us. So many people have led you and me to Jesus: parents, family, friends, teachers, sermons, retreats, books, films, TV programmes… Pause now and say thanks to all those people who brought us to Jesus.
At the same time, there are people waiting to hear Jesus’ call – through us. In our family, our workplace… How often do we share our faith? How many people even know we are committed Christians? A private Christian is actually a contradiction in terms.
Bartimaeus now jumps up, throws off his cloak. For a beggar, his cloak was also his sleeping mat and his only possession. Even this he now gets rid of. He comes to Jesus with confidence, in freedom, with nothing. Compare this with the well-dressed rich man who could not follow Jesus because he identified wealth with his money.
Face to face now with Jesus, Bartimaeus is asked: “What can I do for you?” In last week’s Gospel Jesus asked exactly the same question to James and John. Their answer: “Give us the two top spots in the Kingdom of your glory.” In answer to the same question, Bartimaeus gives a very different answer: “Lord, that I may see.” In the context of this story he is asking for much more than physical sight. His prayer is one we all need to make continually. The secret of life is to be able to see, to see life’s real meaning and direction, to be people of vision, to know where God is to be found, where real truth and goodness and beauty are to be found.
“Go, your way” says Jesus, “your faith, has saved you.” Immediately, the man was able to see. Then what did the man do? He did the only thing a person of vision could do: he followed Jesus on the road. At the end of the story, we have a man who can see, has vision, who knows very clearly where he is going and where he should be going. No longer sitting passively waiting to get or receive but now actively walking with Jesus. This is what a true discipleship is all about.
On our own we are blind and poor with nothing of our own. As Christians, we have our eyes opened to the meaning of life, we are to undergo a radical conversion experience which gives new direction to all we are and do. We are ready to walk with Jesus on the way to Jerusalem with clear vision, with true freedom. Together with Bartimaeus let us pray, “Lord, I want to see”
I request my readers to pray for my brother back in India Susai Manickam (49 years) battling with Blood Cancer. His chance of survival is only some 30% – 40% . To try that, it might cost around $ 75,000 to $ 90,000. Please pray that myself and the family all together see the God’s plan for him…