Scripture: Mark 10:46-52 – They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing
off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My Rabbi, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed
him on the way.
Reflection: Bartimaeus is described as a blind beggar. He occupies a low status on the socio-economic rung of his community and can only sustain himself by depending on the charity of others. His begging is annoying to some. His physical presence in public spaces is an eyesore. Strangers dare to order him around with stern voices expectant of Bartimaeus’ compliance.
While others tried to suppress Bartimaeus and his cries, Jesus heard him, stood still and stopped to attend to him; or as we refer to it, Jesus stops to “serve” Bartimaeus.
The challenging aspect for us in positions of power is that Jesus dignifies and humanizes lowly and devalued Bartimaeus as a person of integral and sacred worth, a child made in the image of God, and a vital member of the community. By asking him what he wants, Jesus does not presuppose that he knows what is best for Bartimaeus. Instead, Jesus recognizes Bartimaeus’ individual autonomy and dignity and affords him the opportunity to decide for himself. Jesus thereby hands over to Bartimaeus not only the power to decide for himself but the accessibility to the abundant resources Jesus can provide for Bartimaeus. Jesus subordinates himself to the full disposal and service to Bartimaeus. Jesus is no longer controlling the outcome of the encounter, Bartimaeus is.
Even in his physical blindness, Bartimaeus recognizes (sees) not only the power granted to him by Jesus to decide for himself and request resources, but he also acknowledges a new teaching by Jesus. He calls Jesus “my Teacher” or “my Rabbi” signifying that he acknowledged the new teaching. Bartimaeus recognizes that Jesus is teaching how human relationships in the Kingdom of God should look like when those in power subordinate themselves and their resources in service that seeks the welfare and empowerment of the vulnerable, marginalized, and the voiceless. Indeed, this is new teaching!
Bartimaeus makes a wise request and asks to see again. Jesus grants his request. Bartimaeus physical vision is restored. Then Jesus instructs Bartimaeus to Go! But instead, Bartimaeus follows Jesus, his Healer, his Savior, his Teacher on the way. Bartimaeus regains not only his physical sight but a new Kingdom vision that calls him to a new way of living out Jesus’s teaching. That way is the way to the cross, a cross-formed life of service to humanity that sees and stops to serve others in the lower rungs of society in a way that affirms their dignity and worth as a child of God, that seeks their wellbeing and empowers them to see the beauty of Jesus and live with hope again.
Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22) I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. O
magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed. This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all. He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken. Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life
of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be