The blind man

October 24, 2021

The Israelites “departed in tears” (Jeremiah 31:9), but the Lord brought them back in joy. In the psalm, “they go forth weeping,” but “come back rejoicing” (Psalm 126:6). Blind Bartimaeus went to the roadside seeking pity but left sighted with Jesus. Into times of pain and suffering our transformative God brings hope and joy. But the latter can’t happen without the former. Two weeks ago we heard a rich man ask Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus told him that he must sell all he has and follow him. He declined. He walked away. Today we hear a blind man ask Jesus to give him the ability to see. A beggar, he has already thrown away his only possession: a cloak, which would have held all the coins he collected. Jesus tells him to go on his way, but instead he follows Jesus on the Way. Both men have faith in God and look to Jesus for help, but the prosperous man is unwilling to leave what he already has. His wealth weighs him down. The poor man immediately sacrifices what little he has to follow Jesus. His poverty had set him free. A contrast can be made with last Sunday’s Gospel as well. Jesus ask virtually the same question to Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) that he asked James and John (sons of Zebedee) a few verses before: “What do you wish/want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36, 51). The apostles, not seeing what they were asking for, ask for glory, something Jesus is neither able nor willing to give; the blind man, seeing who Jesus truly is, asks to be made whole, exactly what Jesus can and will give. One last contrast: Bartimaeus’s physical sight was impaired, but his spiritual sight was clear. Even before Jesus cured him he threw away his cloak – essential for his occupation – and immediately after he was cured he followed Jesus on the way. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2021).

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