Fr. Serg Kabamalan, CJM
Bartimaeus heard! Cried out! Sprang up! Came! Spoke! Saw! And followed Jesus!
The story of Bartimaeus is jam packed with so much action words for one who was visually challenged, and therefore, restricted in movements! It is so amazing that Jesus just passing by could affect a flurry of activities that would surge forward into discipleship.
Let’s imagine Bartimaeus, however, prior to that fateful encounter to appreciate the narrative in a better light. Marginalized and reduced to begging by the roadside to survive, literally at the mercy of people going in and out of Jericho, he only had a cloak to protect him from natural elements. He was stripped of dignity and capacity to become a functioning member of the Jewish society. His misfortune had cut him off from the community. He was resigned to remain at the roadside of life while the artery that makes life possible in the city was pulsing and teeming with a procession of people driven by their own particular life purposes. Life was really passing by, and he knew he was not part of it.
He was slumped on the ground passively waiting for what some people may spare to sustain him when probably he heard stories quite different from the ordinary. He must have overheard about this man, named Jesus, who could inspire people with his words, heal the sick, restore life or feed a multitude! The stories told and retold by the passersby evangelized him, and stirred something in his heart. When he learned that Jesus was around and would pass by, he allowed what he heard to inform his actions! He cried out to Jesus in full faith, asking for his mercy even when some tried to silence him. Then, face to face with Jesus, he expressed his heart’s deepest desire. Receiving his sight back, he also received the grace that enlivens and deepens faith, and therefore, the spiritual sight to recognize who Jesus truly is!
Note, however, that Bartimaeus had to leave and let go of the cloak of his security and comfort for him to make his heart’s deepest desire known to God. What is it that we also need to give up to receive a greater measure of faith that will allow us to follow Jesus more and more?
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!