Scripture: Lectionary 350. Sirach 42:15-25. Psalm 33:2-3, 4-5,6-7,8-9.
Bartimaeus is a blind beggar who sits near the gate of Jericho. Jericho is
the last town that Jesus will visit before ascending to Jerusalem where
after some fleeting moments of joy, he will be seized and then maltreated,
judged, and sentenced to death on the despicable instrument of cruelty the
cross. Romans executed criminals and war-like zealots by the thousands.
Jesus was considered a threat to them! Bartimaeus realized through the din
that Jesus was making his way up the road to Jerusalem over ten miles away.
He is not quieted by the crowd and cries out a prayer and a plea to Jesus,
“Jesus, son of David, have mercy upon me.” His trust and faith are very
strong and the people around him are no threat to him. He is the one who
gives us the formulation of the great sacred prayer called the Jesus prayer
which consists in simply repeating over and over what he said.
His name means the honorable one as well as a nomenclature that tells us he
is the son of Timaeus. There is a parallel to this event in Luke 18:35-43.
Someone in the crowd probably leads him to Jesus to whom he makes known his
request. He calls Jesus “Rabboni” or great teacher and Jesus then turns to
him to go and be on his way. He has received his sight and now is able to
do this, but he goes beyond what Jesus says. He actually becomes a
disciple of Jesus through the phrase that Mark gives us (akolouthein auto
en te hodo) which means he followed Jesus on the way up to Jerusalem. That
is what the other disciples were doing and the same verb is used to
describe this way of following Jesus as a disciple.Judaism uses the same
expression to describe the attitude of a disciple and of a rabbi’ servant.
The verb is hardly ever used in the Old Testament but in the New Testament
it is quite frequent. ( See I Peter 2:21 and Revelation 14:4).
This passage (pericope) is helpful for our own desire to be a disciple of
Jesus. Like the beggar, we are able to pray as he did and the Lord will
remove our blindness in whatever area that may be. We cry out, “Lord Jesus,
son of David, have mercy on us.” We continue to pray that simple prayer
till we sense the presence of the Lord and experience some type of seeing
that was not there before. We believe more deeply in Jesus not only as the
son of David, but as the Son of God. He is more than our brother, he is
also our God and Redeemer–a christology that is found in the pages of the
New Testament especially in Paul. After such prayer, we are ready to
follow Jesus up to Jerusalem to participate in his way of the cross. We
again thank Mark, the Evangelist of discipleship and the proclaimer of the
Cross of Jesus. Amen.