Readings (Year B):
Reflection: What do you want?
Most of us have no idea what it is like to be physically blind.
So as we hear this weekend’s gospel, it can be easy for us to be wowed by the miracle that takes place, forgetting the perspective of Bartimaeus himself. We know that he was poor enough to beg by the side of the road and that he was distraught enough to ask Jesus to have pity on him—not just once, but over and over again.
And as this poor beggar repeated his plea, those around Jesus became uncomfortable. Even then, the followers of Jesus wanted everything to be perfect.
In the time of Jesus, being blind wasn’t only a personal burden but also would have been viewed by many as a punishment for one’s sins or the sins of one’s family. Thus, Bartimaeus would have been ostracized, unable to earn a living and participate in the life of the community.
For years Bartimaeus dreamed of this day, this opportunity. He yearned for an end to the darkness, he longed for an end to his suffering.
And so, when the crowd called to him, he sprung to his feet, threw off his cloak, one of his few possessions, and came to Jesus.
As he approached, he brought not only his inability to see, he brought all of the pain and struggle that came with it. He brought years of anger, shame, and hurt to the man who understood all of it.
It may seem odd to us that Jesus would ask Bartimaeus what it was that he wanted. The man is blind, what else might he want but to have his blindness cured? What on earth could he ask for but that?
And yet, he doesn’t just say that he wants to see. In the Greek it is closer to saying I want to see your face. Bartimaeus seems to be saying, “Master, I want to see you.”
Without faith, such a statement wouldn’t have mattered. Without Bartimaeus’ understanding of who Jesus truly was, he might have just said, “I want to see again” or “I want to be able to see the beautiful people that walk down my street.”
Instead, after years of blindness, a lifetime of doubt and pain and fear, Bartimaeus wants to see the face of the one in whom he believes. He longs to see the face of the one that stands before him.
Without even raising his hand toward Bartimeaus, Jesus tells him that he can see. There is no spitting, no clay, no water being turned into anything. All that is needed is faith. A faith that restores sight, a faith that allows the blind not only to see, but to see the face of God.
And it is that faith that saves all of us from our own blindness and our shared blindness to injustice in our world. There is no need for us to await a miracle, we have been given our call loudly and clearly.
Go on your way, your faith has saved you.