I have to admit that today’s Gospel about blind Bartimaeus has never been one that registered on my radar screen. When it came to Jesus giving sight to the blind, I was pretty much in the Man Born Blind camp. But now that I teach fourth-grade faith formation, I not only spend a lot of advance time thinking about the Gospel each week, I also have to figure out how to explain it in a way that makes sense to a 9-year-old. And that, in turn, ends up forcing me to dive into readings I might otherwise overlook. (My faith formation teaching experience is a post in itself for another day.)
So this past week I spent some quality time with Bartimaeus. On Wednesday, I read the Gospel to my class and talked to the kids about how this story is meant to remind us that if we have faith, God will light the way for us and give us what we need to see things clearly. It was a quicker-than-usual discussion of the Gospel because we were due in the school gym for the recitation of the Rosary. As I hurried my class and our second-grade buddies down the hall toward the gym, the school principal saw me walk by. Quite unexpectedly (in fact I wasn’t even sure I’d heard him right at first), he called out, “Take courage. Get up, Jesus is calling you.” And suddenly, in an instant, the story of Bartimaeus became mine in a totally new way.
For the first time since I’d begun reading that Gospel over and over, I really heard that line as it relates to me: “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you. ” It turns out that I am very much like blind Bartimaeus, begging again and again for God to have pity on me and to help me see. My eyes are clouded by things of the external world — the busyness of life, the responsibilities of work and family, the pull of all the addictive time-drains (Twitter and Facebook and email and more) that get too much of my attention each day. But unlike Bartimaeus, I don’t always hear the God’s call, drop everything and run to Jesus. Sometimes I can’t hear him over the din of everyday life. Other times I’ve got my fingers in my ears because I’m afraid of what I might hear. And still other times I’m sure that my prayer life is too neglected and too erratic to warrant a response from God.
But Bartimaeus reminds us that we just have to keep praying and asking, not because we are worthy and not because we’ve mastered our prayers, but because we believe. A while back I posted (HERE) about the fact that God doesn’t answer our prayers because we say them perfectly but because we are “shameless” in our persistence. Like Bartimaeus, we have to keep yelling out, ” Jesus, have pity on me.” We have to have faith and trust that he is listening and that if we make the time to slow down and be quiet, we will get the answer and the sight we’ve been begging for. The question is, will we be ready and willing to take the call?
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”