Stop whispering your prayer, perhaps it’s time to shout! – Sunday, 30th week in ordinary time – Mark 10:46-52
This text precedes the triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Mark 11:1). Today’s text is somewhere in the days preceding the Holy week and this we can safely surmise because in the next chapter Jesus enters Jerusalem and we are also told that today’s miracle takes place in Jericho and the distance between Jericho and Jerusalem is about 46 kilometers if you were to drive today.
The text of today is also to be found in the Gospel of Matthew 20:29-34 and in the Gospel of Luke 18:35-43. Mark’s Gospel is the only one which mentions the name of the blind man; he is Bartimaeus son of Timaeus. Bartimaeus, which is sometimes seen as his given name, is actually the man’s “last name.” Bartimaeus is an Aramaic phrase: bar Timaeus, where “bar” means “son of.” In Matthew’s Gospel we are not told the name of the man whose sight is restored but we are told there are TWO men who call to Jesus for help. Matthew and Luke also place this miracle story in Jericho and just before the entry in to Jerusalem though Luke will also give us the narrative of Zacchaeus the ‘famous’ tax collector of Jericho before he pens down the entry into Jerusalem.
Today I want to focus on what we can learn from Bartimaeus.
1. Illness at the time of Jesus meant that you were a sinner. Illness and sin were seen as two sides of the same coin. So, Bartimaeus was used to being looked down on and even silenced in public. But having lived through his situation he knows how to deal with people who try to silence him. When the crowds try to silence him and even do so “sternly” ordering him to be quiet he realizes that this may be the last chance he ever has. Many of us too feel silenced in our own homes, work places and lives. We feel relegated to a corner because of illness, physical challenges, challenges in our life caused at birth or may be just a dominating person who controls our lives. Bartimaeus knew when to cry out and to whom to cry out to. He knew that no one except the ‘Son of David’ could help him. Incidentally this title, ‘Son of David’ appears only here in the Gospel of Mark. The blind man had no sight but had insight. He grasped who Jesus was and what he could do even when his own disciples failed to understand Jesus.