Gospel for October 25, 2015: “The Blind Bartimaeus”
Mark 10: 46-52
They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
I am heartily encouraged by reading this beautifully concise gospel story of a miracle healing. While I am not physically blind myself, I often feel spiritually blind. I feel that I cannot see God’s will for my life. Currently, I am in a time of change where I have all these new possibilities in front of me, and I do not know which path God wants me to take, if any. I sense that my spiritual blindness is caused by a need to control my destiny, and yet I cannot shake the grip of my own selfishness and pride. While I try to be patient in the revelation of God’s plan for me, I am vulnerable to apprehension and doubt as I stand at this crossroads unable to see my way forward and am mightily tempted to choose the path myself.
I have discovered reading Bartimaeus’s story metaphorically gives me a sense of how to respond to this spiritual affliction with an “active patience.” First, Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus with humility, “…have pity on me” (47). With prayer, I can do this. Then “he kept calling out” despite human distraction (48). I can persist with my pleas for pity as he does. In his persistence, Jesus hears him and answers.
I love the encouragement from the disciples in response to Jesus’s request to call Bartimaeus. They say, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you” (49). Notice they don’t say be courageous, but rather take courage. In other words, courage is a spiritual gift to be received from the Holy Spirit, not a human resource to be summoned out of sheer personal will. And yet there is action, “get up.” I can move toward Him with more intentional worship and prayer, rather than allowing myself to become paralyzed by fear of indecision.
In His mercy Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you me to do for you?” (51). With these simple steps, I have such unconditional loving compassion awaiting me from my Lord. And so I will answer as Bartimaeus did: “Master, I want to see” (51). That’s all I want, to know God’s plan for me so that I may follow and no longer be controlled by my own selfish desires. I want to see God’s path for me.
And then the miracle happens. Jesus replies, “Go your way; your faith has saved you” (52). I find such peace at the notion that my salvation only requires faith, just as did Bartimaeus’s. And the outcome is what I hope for: “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way” (52). The path is to follow the Good Shepherd. I only need to see Him and follow to stay on the right pathway.