Take Courage. Get Up. Jesus is Calling.

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

This Sunday we are given the gospel of Christ healing Bartimaeus, the blind man (Mk 10:46-52). This passage in particular is like a microcosm of the Christian life, and has much to teach us about our own journey of faith. Let’s take a look.

A blind man

The first thing we are told about Bartimaeus is that he is blind. Sight is so important to us. We may have five senses, but sight is how we receive most of the information we get about the world around us. It’s no wonder that sight is often used to symbolize knowledge. When we finally understand a concept we’ve been struggling to learn, we might exclaim, “O, I see!” For similar reasons light is used as a metaphor for knowledge. To learn the truth is to be enlightened.

Bartimaeus’ physical blindness is a spiritual representation of the darkness we find ourselves in apart from God. The author C. S. Lewis once remarked that he believes in God in the same way that he believes in the sun; not because he sees God directly, but because it is by God’s light that he sees everything else. We are told in Revelation that in the heavenly Jerusalem there will be no sun or moon, for the glory of God will be its light (Rev 22:23).

But at the beginning of this narrative, Bartimaeus, like all of us apart from Christ, finds himself in darkness.

He cries out

But Bartimaeus does not sit idle in the darkness. He is begging on the roadside. He is asking for help. And when we hears that Jesus is near, he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” Son of David is one of the titles of the Messiah. He has faith that Jesus is God’s anointed one. He has faith that Jesus can help him, can alleviate his darkness.

When we find ourselves in spiritual darkness, we, too, must ask for help. We shouldn’t sit in our darkness alone. Most importantly, we should not be afraid to ask Jesus, the source of life and light, to come to us.

Bartimaeus was rebuked as he called out to the Lord. Many told him to be silent. So will the world often tell us to be silent when we cry out for Christ. But Bartimaeus would not be silent. He persisted in his plea, “Son of David, have pity on me.” And Jesus hears, as he always hears our prayers; and he responds. “Call him.”

Called by the disciples.

“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” Before coming to him directly, Jesus sends his disciples to Bartimaeus to deliver the good news. Jesus is calling you! This is how Jesus works. He comes to us through representatives; through his disciples and apostles; through fellow Christians and ministers in the Church.

Maybe you are Bartimaeus waiting for the Church to bring you the good news of Jesus. Maybe you are the disciple who is called to bring that good news to others. One leads into the other. To be healed by Jesus is to become a disciple. To be a disciple is to bring healing to others.

He throws aside his cloak.

This is such a small detail and easily missed. When Bartimaeus hears the call of the disciples, he throws aside his cloak and comes to Jesus. Why does he throw his cloak aside? As a blind man begging on the street, his cloak must have been one of his few sources of comfort. It was something he could feel, something he wrapped himself in, that gave him protection. It was probably one of the only things he could be sure of. If he cast it aside, he may not be able to find it again in his blindness.

Casting his cloak aside is an act of faith. He is willing to let go of his comfort, to let go of his safety, to let go of all he clings to, in order to come to Christ unencumbered. What comforts and safety nets do we cling to? What are we unwilling to cast aside because we do not trust fully in the Lord?

A simple question.

When he comes to Jesus, our Lord asks him a simple question; such an important question that all of us must give an answer to. “What do you want me to do for you?” What do you want? Do you want to be with me? You can. Do you want to be my follower? You can. Do you want to be my brother? You can. Do you want to experience my love forever? You can.

Or do you want a life apart from me? You can have that, too. Do you want to do things on your own, without my help? You can. Do you want me to leave you alone? I will.

C. S. Lewis also said once that at the end of our lives everyone gets exactly what they want: an eternity with God (heaven) or an eternity without God (hell). We get to choose. So what do you want?

I want to see.

Bartimaeus says simply, “Master, I want to see.” Obviously the blind man wants his sight restored. But he is asking for more than physical sight. He asks for spiritual enlightenment. He asks for the truth. He asks for understanding.

Each time we approach God in prayer, this should be our petition. “Master, I want to see.” I want to see the truth of Your goodness. I want to see the depth of Your mercy. I want to see myself as You see me, so that I may see myself as I truly am. Master, I want to see.

Your faith has saved you.

Jesus grants his simple request. He restores Bartimaeus’ sight, telling him, “Your faith has saved you.”

Of course it was Jesus who saved Bartimaeus, just as it is Jesus who saves each of us. But Bartimaeus was also saved by his faith. His faith to call out to Jesus. His faith to keep calling out when others told him to be silent. His faith to cast aside his cloak and come to Christ. His faith that Jesus would be able to answer his humble request. His faith that Christ could make him see.

May we each have faith like Bartimaeus. May we have the faith to cry out to Jesus in our darkness. May we have the faith to persist in our prayers, even when told to be silent. May we have the faith to cast aside our comforts and securities to answer God’s call. May we have the faith to ask God for our needs, and the faith to know he will answer.

The last thing we are told about Bartimaeus is that after he received his sight, he followed Jesus. Christ is the light that illumines our darkness. To maintain our sight we must stay close to the light. We must follow Christ. May we always have the grace to do so.