Beset by weakness himself, Jesus understands those who sit by the roadside. Calling them, he makes them leap, so that they may come to him and follow him on the way.
Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is passing by. There is no indication that the blind feels his heart leap for joy. But his cry shows his decision to avail of this opportunity. He cries out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And the beggar’s decision is firm, for as the people rebuke him, he cries out all the more.
Those who rebuke Bartimaeus ask him to shut up. Are there perhaps among them pregnant women who leap out of fright because of his cry? Or nursing mothers whose babies he awakens? Or maybe not missing in the sizable crowd are some Pharisees. They find it shocking and unbearable that anyone would give Jesus the messianic title of “Son of David.” It would not be surprising, then, should they demand quickly, that Bartimaeus keep quiet (see Lk 19, 39).
No, the Pharisees do not leap to share the faith that underlies the cry of the one who does not see. He is blind; they are not. But since they say, “We see,” their sin remains (Jn 9, 41). On the other hand, the one acknowledging that he is blind cries out for mercy. And his faith saves him. Moreover, it leads him to follow Jesus.
The question that is squarely before us is this: Like Bartimaeus do we take the leap of faith?
No doubt, we Christians confess that Jesus is the promised Messiah from David’s shoot. But does “living faith” (SV.EN XI:190), which is a mark of the poor, underlie our confession?
Do we leap for joy, even if only within us, amidst our miseries, hopelessness and darkness? After all, Jesus is passing by. He is the presence in human flesh of God, “the strength of the weak and the eye of the blind” (SV.EN III:159). He never leaves behind those the world deems throwable. Those who sit by the roadside, the blind and the lame, the mothers and those with child. Rather, he invites them to follow him on the way, to become part of the “Church that goes forth.”
The way finally leads, of course, to Jerusalem, to death. In other words, to follow Jesus, one does not only throw aside one’s cloak, but also one’s body and blood.
Lord Jesus, make us answer your call swiftly, taking with great joy the leap of faith and hope. May we truly see, come near you and follow you to the end.
28 October 2018
30th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Jer 31, 7-9; Heb 5, 1-6; Mk 10, 46-52