There is a story about a man who was traveling on a train with his 16 years old son. Looking out from the window the boy was so intrigued and would comment on everything including the moving clouds, the trees, vehicles, and people. He was so excited and loud that the people sitting around felt uncomfortable. One man could not hold it any longer and asked the dad if the boy was alright to which the dad replied and said that the boy just got his sight back after a successful surgery and he is excited that he could see after so many years of blindness.
Those who could use their eyes may not know what it means to live without eyes which is like being in perpetual darkness. If you sometimes worry about how people are looking at you when you are not looking, then you can imagine the worry in the mind of a blind person about every eye out there.
The Gospel today (Mark 10: 46-52), presents one of the numerous encounters our Lord had on his way to Jerusalem through Jericho. Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd when a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, made an unusual appearance that compelled our Lord to put his journey on hold.
The blind man heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing, and he began to CRY OUT saying JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE PITY ON ME. The crowd tried to stop him, but he cried out even more. At that point, our Lord stopped and asked him to come. THROWING ASIDE his cloak he comes to Jesus, and he asked him, “what you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Master, I WANT TO SEE.” And Jesus says to him, “go your way; your FAITH has saved you and immediately he received his sight and followed the Lord.
The narrative of the blind man Bartimaeus leaves us with a lot of lessons. In fact, in the blind man Bartimaeus we discover an apt fulfillment of the mission of the Messiah.
Crying out, “Son of David Have Mercy on me.”
When Jesus referred to Bartimaeus as someone that is saved by faith we need to ask why? The answer could be found in his reaction when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing. Note well that he heard “Jesus of Nazareth” but when crying out, he says, “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me.”
God will always listen to those who cry out to Him. The word of God says, “this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him from all his trouble” (Psalm 34:6). Bartimaeus’ faith moved him to cry out not just to Jesus of Nazareth but to the Son of David which is the title of the Messiah (Matt. 1:1; Matt 21:9).
Defying the Crowd
In most narrative in the Gospels, it is common to see the crowd. The crowd would continuously be a potential obstacle. For instance, the woman who wanted to touch the garment of Jesus to receive healing from her hemorrhages (Mark 5:27) and Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-9) had to contend with the crowd.
In the narrative, the crowd wanted to stop Bartimaeus from crying out to the Lord, but he responded by reflecting Psalm 77:1 which says. “I cry aloud to God. Aloud to God that He may hear me”. Notice that it was when he ignored the hushing of the crowd and cried out more than our Lord stopped and invited him and when the Lord invited him the crowd turned around to encourage him to meet the Lord. Do not allow the crowd to set the pace for your life.
Throwing Aside the Cloak
Notice that before Bartimaeus goes to meet the Lord, he had to discard his cloak which covers him from the external elements. If he were still wrapped in that cloak, it would have been difficult for him to reach out to the Lord.
St. Paul advised that we lay aside the old self (Eph. 4:22). The cloak represents those things that give us comfort but hinders us from reaching out to the Lord. We all have various cloaks in our lives that we need to throw aside. They represent those unnecessary comfort zones in our lives that keep us in darkness and spiritual blindness.
“I want to See.”
God wants us to be specific in our supplications. Bartimaeus was both a blind man and a beggar. These dispositions open two potential needs: alms and healing. So, when our Lord said, “what do you want me to do for you? He pleaded to regain his sight, “Master I want to see.”
Giving sight to the blind occupies a primary place in the manifesto of our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18). Bartimaeus prefigures this liberation from darkness into light as the prophet Isaiah (9:2) remarked, “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.
The request of Bartimaeus to see again recalls to us the message in the First Reading (Jer.31:7-9) which tells us that God will bring back and console the blind and the lame from where they have been dispersed by fate. We may claim to have our physical sight, but spiritually we could be groping in darkness. This may be the time to approach the Lord to see again.
“Go Your Way.” He Followed the Lord
When Bartimaeus declared his intention for the restoration of his sight our Lord tells him to go his way for his faith had saved him. The instruction “go your way” leaves the blind man with the choice to go wherever his chooses. From the narrative, however, we understand that he followed the Lord.
Following the Lord is a decision that shows appreciation and commitment. Many people would go their selfish ways like the nine out of the ten lepers the Lord cured (Luke 17:11-19). On his part, Bartimaeus sees the way of the Lord as the best way ever. When you receive favors from the Lord, what do you do?
Are you still sitting by the roadside of life while the Lord passes by every day? Now is the time to rise like Bartimaeus. There is the need to defy the hushing command of the crowd. Now is the time to put aside those cloaks that tend to limit us from reaching out to the Lord for our deliverance from our spiritual blindness. We all need a Bartimaeus experience and today is just proper.
May God bless you and grant you His unfailing graces.
2 responses to “LESSONS FROM THE BLIND MAN WHO IDENTIFIED THE MESSIAH HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.”
My father, thanks for making me to be identified among the crowd always just like bartimaeus. Missing u father