In today’s Gospel, Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus in his physical (and spiritual) poverty and he won’t cease crying out, so persistently in fact that the disciples are annoyed and seek to silence him, seeing him as a bother. But Bartimaeus doesn’t stop, and Jesus hears him, meets him and gives him the healing that he seeks to find. Today’s Gospel provides us much to stop and reflect upon.
First of all, we must stop and ask ourselves as Disciples of Christ, are there times when we get in the way of others who are seeking Jesus? Are we open and free enough in our own thinking and understanding to recognize someone who is? I ask myself that question today. I meet people every day who seek the Lord in all kinds of way and I recognize my own limitations and especially when I am tired or stressed out about something my limitations increase and I know I can become less open to how others around me cry out to the Lord. I know that others have other limitations, perhaps a belief that there are only a very few ways to reach out to the Lord, perhaps our limitation is that we feel so few are worthy – these are not justifications for our behaviour but limitations in our thinking. The only way for us to overcome these limitations is to truly and sincerely turn back to the Lord and ask Him to open our hearts further to see grace taking place in people. We need to then allow a paradigm shift in our way of thinking to take place; to see the glass half full (everyone who wants to see and meet Jesus will be accepted by Him) rather than the glass half empty (I’ve got to protect Jesus from the people).
A second valuable point of reflection today comes from Bartimaeus himself. He is persistent in his cries. He pleads for Jesus to meet him. We all have reached out to God in prayer, but there are many of us who place less value on prayer for a variety of reasons: one, we feel that God already knows what we want or two, we’ve not received what we ask for, so why bother. There are other reasons why we struggle with prayer but these two reasons are key. We often look at prayer as for God to hear us and surely He does hear us, but prayer is for us. God listens to us and our hearts and the things which matter most to us. He hears our prayers and answers them but sometimes we need to be persistent in those prayers. If Bartimaeus gave up, where would he have been? In seeing the ‘big picture’ in this Gospel, we know that there were other factors at play in the delay and maybe there is in the ‘big picture’ of whatever prayer seems to be delayed in our lives too. Maybe it’s so we grow deeper in our faith, maybe it’s so we learn how to overcome certain obstacles on our own, maybe it’s to ready us for when our prayer is answered – again, a deepening of our faith. Bartimaeus asked for his physical healing, but what he received was so much greater, both the physical but moreover the healing of his soul too.
As we begin or continue our day, as Disciples of Jesus Christ; let us pray for greater spiritual in-“sight” and for a greater freedom and strength in our faith; to both see and welcome all in the Name of Jesus, but then to be freed from whatever holds us back and blinds us to the Way, the Truth and the Life.