What can we do when faith is extinguished in our heart? Is it possible to react? Can we get out of our indifference? Mark tells about the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus, in order to encourage his readers to live out a process that can change their lives.
It’s not difficult to recognize ourselves in the figure of Bartimaeus. We sometimes live like «blind people», without eyes to see life as Jesus saw it. «Sitting», installed in a conventional religion, without energy to follow Jesus’ footsteps. On the wrong track, «on the side of the road» that Jesus is on, without having him as guide in our Christian communities.
What can we do? In spite of his blindness, Bartimaeus «figured out» that Jesus was passing by his life. He can’t let the opportunity pass him by and starts shouting over and over: «have pity on me». This is always what’s most important: open ourselves up to whatever calling or experience that invites us to heal our life.
The blind man doesn’t know how to say prayers composed by others. He only knows how to shout and beg compassion because he’s feeling bad. This humble and sincere cry, repeated from the bottom of one’s heart, can be for us the beginning of a new life. Jesus won’t pass us by.
The blind man continues on the ground, far from Jesus, but he listens attentively to what the messengers are saying to him: «Courage, get up; he is calling you». First he lets himself get encouraged as he opens the door a small crack to hope. Then he hears the call to get up and do something. Lastly he no longer feels himself alone: Jesus is calling him. This changes everything.
Bartimaeus takes three steps that change his life. «He throws off his cloak» because it gets in the way of meeting Jesus. Then, even though he’s still moving in darkness, «jumps up» decidedly. Then «he goes to Jesus». This is what many of us need: free ourselves of bindings that suffocate our faith; make a decision –finally– without putting it off for later; and put ourselves in front of Jesus with a simple faith that’s new.
When Jesus asks him what he wants of him, the blind man doesn’t hesitate. He knows well what he needs: «Rabbuni, let me see again». That’s what’s most important. When someone starts to see things in a new way, that person’s life is transformed. When a community receives Jesus’ light, it changes.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf