Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 42:15-25; Mark 10:46-52)
Ministers working in hospitals and prisons are accustomed to patients and inmates telling them that they will contact them after being released. However, such communication seldom takes place. It is not that they lied before or that they intentionally wish to avoid those who helped them, but that they lack the spiritual energy to revisit the place of confinement. Bartimaeus in the gospel today would be an exception to this observation. Jesus sends him away, but he steadfastly follows Jesus.
The passage is a healing story laced with irony. Bartimaeus does not see Jesus with his eyes but possesses faith in him, which is another way of seeing. He acknowledges Jesus as “’son of David’” meaning that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. By restoring his physical sight, Jesus confirms the efficacy of Bartimaeus’ faith. Although one might argue that in obedience to Jesus, Bartimaeus should have gone his own way, he is more coherent for following the one whom he believes will liberate Israel from bondage.
We are not being called to such a radical following since Jesus does not now humanly walk the earth. Nevertheless, if, like Bartimaeus, we acknowledge him as our savior, we should conform ourselves to him spiritually. This means not only that we accept the suffering that comes our way without grumbling, but also that we go out of our way to share the burden of those who may be hurting more than we.