30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 28, 2018
“Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.
On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say,
‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’”
There were many people lining the roadside as Jesus left Jericho that day. Jericho lies at an oasis at the base of a long arduous climb up to the mountains of Jerusalem. Jesus, by this time, was quite famous and many came to see him: the curious, those expecting miracles, those seeking a cure, those who wanted to hear him. Others in Jericho were just too busy to bother, going about their usual business without a thought or a realization that one of the most historic moments in the history of Jerusalem was about to pass by.
Bartimaeus was blind. He could not see exactly when or where Jesus was passing; he could not catch Jesus’ eye, so what does he do? He calls out in desperation! And this call was heard by the Lord. What was it that made Bartimaeus different than so many others who lined the streets the day that Jesus passed by for the last time? Desperation! Bartimaeus, because of his illness, was willing to take a risk. His great need made him seek desperate measures. He was willing to be humiliated, risking being ignored by Jesus or embarrassed by the crowds who heard him; but Bartimaeus had one big asset going for him: he may have been blind, but he could not be silenced. Bartimaeus was determined that Jesus might hear him. Bartimaeus was desperate enough to call out to Jesus.
Even today, the self-satisfied, those so busy and full of the things of this world, those who are not aware of their need for God may not seek the Lord as diligently as those in need. What we lack can become our greatest assets, because these become openings, windows and doors that the Lord can enter through!
The irony of this story is that, like much of scripture, the Lord speaks on several levels at once: the obvious, surface meaning and deeper insights for those who have the eyes to see. The one who “sees” Jesus more clearly than anyone else is in fact the blind man! We, too, can be blind in the sense that Jesus may be passing by in our lives, through others, through coincidences, through the Mass, through the sacraments and the Word of God; but, like Bartimaeus, none of us has seen Jesus with our physical eyes either. Instead, we must see him through faith. In fact, the most desperate circumstances of our lives can be turned into windows and doors of grace by which we might allow the Lord and his grace to enter and, at last, to see clearly the road ahead.