Tag Archives: Bartimaeus

By the side of the road

In today’s Gospel (Mark 10: 46-52), the blind beggar Bartimaeus is seated at the side of the road outside of Jericho.

Jesus is on his way up to Jerusalem – where, as he told the apostles, he will be put to death. It’s a perilous journey.

But Bartimaeus has nothing to lose in recognizing Jesus, the Son of David. And so he cries out, begging for mercy, addressing Jesus in Messianic terms, which would get Jesus in trouble in a short time.

But people tell him to shut up. The truth of his message is all too dangerous.

Yes, some might have not wanted to have Jesus bother with this blind beggar, this riff-raff. But I wonder whether Bartimaeus’ naming of Jesus as Son of David didn’t also bother them.

As Gustavo Gutiérrez wrote in his commentary on today’s readings:

Recognizing Jesus as the Christ comes from the last ones in society, from those who are the side of the road, from those whom some seek to shut up.

The powers of the world want us to follow along, to be afraid to speak the truth, to be afraid of the powers that can put one to death.

But a blind beggar at the side of the road has nothing to lose and so teaches us the way, the road, to fullness of life.

When Jesus calls him, Bartimaeus jumps up. He is willing to approach this dangerous man who will soon be crucified.

When Jesus asks him what he wants, Bartimaeus tells him that he wants to see.

But hasn’t Bartimaeus already “seen” the truth?

Today, I pray that we may be more like Bartimaeus, willing to make a nuisance of ourselves in proclaiming the One who brings life and healing and, above all, mercy.

Then we might accompany Bartimaeus following Jesus on the road – to Jerusalem.

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A different reflection on today’s Gospel can be found here at Deacon Greg Kendra’s blog.

The no-longer blind, former beggar

I encounter beggars on a regular basis.

There are some who come up to the gringo for a few lempiras. There are those who ask for help for a sick child or for medicines.

I have often told them, looking them in the eyes, that this is not my custom.

However, I have noticed that many Hondurans, including the poor, will reach into their pockets and give the poor person at least a lempira (about five cents). So I have now set aside a few five and ten lempira bills to have handy for cases of people with medical needs.

But there are also the beggars, often with a physical deformity, whom I see almost daily.

It bothers me that they use their deformity as a way to gain a living.

I contrast them to the poor man in a wheel chair who goes around selling lottery tickets.

But the people here still give to the deformed poor.

This morning, reflecting on today’s Gospel (Luke ) with the help of Daily Gospel 2013, I realize that the blind beggar was like these deformed poor. He, named Bartimaeus in Mark’s Gospel,  had a scheme that worked for him, at least minimally, to get money for food.

But when Jesus asks him what he wants, the beggar answers, “Lord, that I may see.”

That meant that he would no longer have the physical disability that allowed him to beg. He would really have to change his life.

When we really see, we cannot remain as we are. We no longer can rely on our old habits. We have to be converted.

The no-longer blind, former beggar “followed Jesus, giving glory to God.”

When we see the glory of God manifested in Jesus, when we allow ourselves to see the glory of God in the human person fully alive (Saint Irenaus), when we struggle see the glory of God in the poor person fully alive (Archbishop Oscar Romero), we cannot remain the same.

For the glory of God is all too often hidden in the poor; it is ignored and insulted by poverty and injustice.

But when we see, we cannot ignore Jesus on his way to Jerusalem to offer himself for us. Nor can we ignore Jesus in “the distressing disguise of the poor” (Mother Teresa). We will have to change our lives.

May the example of the blind beggar give us the courage to lay aside our blindness and to follow Jesus.