Bartimaeus and True Sight

10.28.18. Sun. wk 30 – O. T. – B

Jeremiah 31: 7 – 9

Hebrews  5: 1 – 6

Gospel – Mark  10: 46 – 52

Please refer to your own Bible for the Scripture readings.

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                            Bartimaeus and True Sight

After healing Bartimaeus, †Jesus said to him: “Go your way, your faith has saved you”. (Mark 10:52)  Where would he go? He was blind.  He probably was rejected by his family several years before.  Maybe they didn’t want him living off of them, because he couldn’t make a living.  So – where was this man to go?   Mark tells us: “He received his sight and followed †Jesus along the way”. (ibid)  After his encounter with †Jesus, Bartimaeus could see clearly – He knew the new direction for his life.  Bartimaeus followed the ‘Way of †Jesus’ – the way that eventually would lead to Jerusalem, to Calvary, and to the empty tomb.  For the Evangelist Mark: “To follow †Jesus along the way” meant Bartimaeus had made †Jesus’ fate – his own fate – †Jesus’ Glory – his own glory.

The story of Bartimaeus could be our story.  When we first meet Bartimaeus as he sat by the roadside begging, he was living on the fringes, not in the mainstream.  Blindness was thought a curse from God – you could not see – you could not work.  If you couldn’t work – you couldn’t have a family (so he probably had no family); he was held captive by his blindness.  Most people wanted nothing to do with him because they considered him ‘a sinner’.  And when he called out to †Jesus – he was told to keep quiet.  The crowd was annoyed that he was disturbing their peace – in walking along with †Jesus and interrupting their time with †Jesus.  What is interesting is – this is the same crowd where, a few days later, they would raise palm branches for †Jesus – singing: “Hosanna to the King” as He entered Jerusalem – down the Mount of Olives.  This would be the same crowd that would later that week – jeer at Him as he walked to Calvary – crying out: “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”.

But Bartimaeus pushed through the opposition of this fickle crowd, he “threw off his cloak”, Mark tells us. He wanted nothing to keep him from †Jesus – and he was willing to let go of everything to go to †Jesus.  And what does †Jesus do?  He asks him: “What do you want me to do for you”?  †Jesus knew Bartimaeus was blind – that was obvious.  But He wanted to draw out of Bartimaeus – a personal response of faith.  †Jesus wanted to deepen the trust of Bartimaeus – the trust that †Jesus had the power to make him whole again.  And the sign of this wholeness was his desire to follow †Jesus along the way – all the way.  Bartimaeus now saw †Jesus as the ‘Way’ and the ‘Truth’ and the ‘Life’.  Is this our story?

What is interesting in the Gospel of Mark – †Jesus is on this journey to Jerusalem that begins in Chapter 8 of this Gospel and it ends in Chapter 11.  And the journey of †Jesus begins and ends with the Lord healing blind men.  In Chapter 8 – we find †Jesus in Bethsaida – in the Galilee area – and He cures a man of blindness.  But then – as He goes along the rest of the journey with His apostles – the Gospel reveals the apostles’ blindness.  They were the blind ones.  They could not see the truth of †Jesus.  At Caesarea-Philippi, Peter wanted to keep †Jesus from going to Jerusalem and falling into the hands of the Pharisees and the Romans; and †Jesus rebuked Peter for that.  The disciples struggled with the cost of discipleship.  †Jesus said to them: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)   Later, on the journey, John and James did not get it.  They asked to sit on His right and on His left – when He came into His Kingdom.  And †Jesus responded: “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.  For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for all”. (Mark 10:44f)  On this journey of †Jesus – from Galilee to Jerusalem – only two people could truly see – the two †Jesus had cured of blindness.  The apostles who accompanied †Jesus – would remain blind until the Resurrection.

We must desire to be like Bartimaeus.  The crowd wanted to keep Bartimaeus away from †Jesus by trying to silence him.  The Post-Christian Culture that we live in – is trying to do the same to us.  Bartimaeus wanted nothing to be a barrier on his journey to †Jesus. “He threw off his cloak”.  Are we willing to run to †Jesus and be detached from the secular values we wrap ourselves in?  Are we willing to run to the arms of †Jesus?  Is this our desire?  There are those who want to keep us from †Jesus – but there are also many who want us to follow †Jesus.  With whom will we walk?

In 1927 Max Ehrmann wrote a poem called: “Disiderata”.  Some of you may remember the 1971 popular song.   It speaks of how we should look at life.   I’d like to read that to you in case you have forgotten it.

Desiderata (desired things)                                                                  By Max Ehrmann © 1927

 GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.


Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.


Avoid loud and aggressive persons;

they are vexatious to the spirit.


If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.


Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.


Exercise caution in your business affairs,

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.


Be yourself.

Especially do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.


Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.


Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.


Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.


And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be.


And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Like Bartimaeus, find joy in †Jesus.  †Jesus is calling your name; He is calling us to holiness, to walk in faith and grace.  Welcome the Bartimaeus’ you encounter “along the way”.  †Jesus is calling them too.  When we share in the paschal mystery of Christ, we will share in the glory of †Jesus.  How do you choose to follow †Jesus?  As part of the sightless crowd, or with the clear vision of Bartimaeus?           

      In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.