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 teacher, 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Bartimaeus is a richly described character in Mark´s gospel. We learn that he is a blind, roadside beggar who was unafraid to raise his voice when he learned that Jesus was passing by. Though told to be quiet, he raises his voice yet again to get Jesus´ attention. Finally, when he learns that he is being called, he “throws off” his cloak and “jumps” to his feet.
In Bartimaeus we see perseverance, a desire for healing, and maybe most importantly his enthusiasm. He does not want this moment to pass by. His engagement with the present moment, with the reality that surrounds him, is passionate.
At the end of the story, Jesus tells him that it was his faith that saved him. Given the actions of Bartimaeus in the story, we might say that it was his passion and enthusiasm that saved him. Faith in this story has something to do with “throwing off our cloak” and “jumping to our feet”.
We might ask ourselves then: what makes me jump to my feet? For whom or what do I throw off my cloak to meet or be with?
May the witness of Bartimaeus guide us. May he help us jump to our feet to meet those who most need us today.
—Christopher Staab, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Chicago IL
Lord, too often we silence ourselves when we should defend the good name of another Sometimes we become quiet and surrender our convictions to preserve harmony and spare ourselves the tension that conflict brings. With the persistence and enthusiasm of Bartimaeus let us not flinch before the truth. And like Bartimaeus may we hear those assuring words: Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”
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