Have pity on me

February 10, 2015

Dear brothers and sisters,

The good news today is from Mark 10:46-52,

They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, 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.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

According to the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, this “is as much a call story as a healing story.” It seems curious to me, though, that Jesus didn’t call Bartimaeus directly. Instead he used his disciples as emissaries; he issued his call through him. They encourage him — “take courage,” instruct him — “get up,” and deliver the message — “he is calling you.” I think Jesus uses others to do the same for me. He doesn’t always speak directly to me. It’s as if he knows that he has to use a variety of means to get through to me, to deliver his message. Maybe because at times I’m so focused on what I want and loud in begging for it that he knows I can’t hear him. He knows he has to arrest my single-minded attention on what I want so that my faith and trust in him can displace my neediness. So I can change from beggar to faithful disciple. That’s what other faith-filled people do for me in my life. They encourage and instruct me and deliver a message that I’m unable to otherwise hear at times, helping me to change from beggar to disciple.

“Master, I want to see.” Bartimaeus is asking for the gift of sight, the gift of faith. Jesus asks me what I want him to do for me. He is ready, am I? Do I believe that he loves me, that he wants to heal me? Am I ready to follow him, follow him to the cross? If I can answer “yes” like Bartimaeus, he will save me, heal me. I will be made to see, to understand. Jesus is calling me to him, just as he did Bartimaeus.

Today I feel like pitiful Bartimaeus sitting on the roadside mindlessly crying out over and over, “Help me, help me.” Today I’m not on the road to Jerusalem with Jesus; I’m sitting blindly on the side of the road. I don’t really want to hear directly from Jesus; I don’t want to follow him to the cross, to suffering. I just want to cry out in pity; I don’t really want to see. Some days are like that.



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