Mark 10: 46-52
Today’s Gospel reading describes the beautifully sensitive episode that happened between Bartimaeus, a blind man, and Jesus.
The story takes place in Jericho, possibly Jesus’ last stop on his way to Jerusalem. It can be contrasted with an earlier encounter with a blind man at the beginning of that journey (8: 22-26) where the blind man is never named and sees only gradually. In between both stories Jesus is instructing his disciples, telling them about his forthcoming passion and death, but they fail to understand. By placing the story of Bartimaeus – and the gospel writer even stressing his ancestry as ‘Son of Timaeus’ – the journey from blindness to sight is being highlighted. It is a journey in getting to know Jesus, a Jesus who invites his followers to walk the road with him from blindness to faith.
The encounter between Jesus and Bartimeus is simple but graphic. “Throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus.” Shedding all that hindered, he went to the one who could heal him. An interesting question that Jesus asked: “What do you want me to do for you?” I wonder what most of us would respond to this question…? Bartimaeus knows and answers directly: “Master, let me see again.” What a lesson in prayer – direct and simple!
Most of us experience times of darkness in our lives when things are going badly or we simply cannot see the way ahead. Sometimes the darkness in the world around us seems overwhelming. We can think of people who bring light to such situations – a friend with whom I can talk, a person who volunteers for missionary work, my local nurse or doctor, for instance. They are ‘Jesus’ for the ‘Bartimaeus’ in me. They light our way and we thank God for them.
Sometimes I see the blindness in others more quickly than I acknowledge the blindness within myself: The poor, the homeless cry out to me, migrants are in difficulty, children in faraway countries are starving and I don’t want to know. Today’s reading is encouraging for all of us in that it invites us not to give up but to bring our blindness to Jesus in the prayer, “Let me see again”. It both reassures and challenges us to bring all that we are to Jesus and that we will find in him a person of deep understanding and compassion. It challenges us to be ‘Jesus’ ourselves to the people in our lives, bringing light and healing wherever we can.
Sr. Veronica Mc Cabe OP