God, weak and compassionate

[Every High Priest] is able to deal gently
with those who are ignorant and those going astray
since he himself is subject to weakness.
Hebrews 5:2

 We so often want a strong God, a God who will solve all our problems, defeat our enemies, and put us in positions of power.

But Jesus shows Himself as a God who is willing to be weak – and thus shows us the compassion of God.

As Jeremiah 31: 7-9 says of the Lord God, who brings back the remnant from exile, he will “gather them from the ends of the earth, the lame and the blind, mothers and women in labor.”

And so, in today’s Gospel, Mark 10: 46-52, we see Jesus giving sight to the blind Bartimaeus, whose name can mean ironically “son of honor” or, perhaps more appropriately, “son of fear.”

What I think is often missed in this story is the context. Jesus is going up to Jerusalem, the center of power, where he will experience conflict and ultimately the extreme of powerlessness, his crucifixion. He is “on the way.”

Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is passing by and pleads for mercy. Despite the efforts of people to have him shut up, Bartimaeus continues to plead.

Jesus, filled with compassion,  hears and Bartimaeus is told: “Take heart – courage! Get up! He is calling!”

Jesus heals Bartimaeus and sends him on his way, “Go your way.”

But what is the way Bartimaeus follows?

The Gospel tells us, “he followed Jesus on the way.”

What is the way that Jesus is walking?

Jesus is walking to his death, to the powerlessness of the Cross. He will be raised up, but only after suffering, giving himself up, adhering firmly and gently to His mission, of being “good news to the poor.”

So often we want the resurrection without the cross, the glory without the suffering, the honor without the identification with the poor,  the exaltation without the identifying ourselves with the emptiness of Jesus (Philippians 2: 7).

And so today, will I be like Bartimaeus, asking to be healed, but taking this healing as a call to open myself to suffering with Christ Jesus – in the poor and the marginalized of this world?

What is the way I will follow?

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