Say a prayer for the success of the 50th anniversary celebration for the National Catholic Reporter at Dominican University in River Forest, Il, this weekend. This blog will resume on Monday.
Here is a short reflection for Sunday, October 25, 2015: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
On the Road with Jesus
“What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:50).
The story of Bartimaeus is filled with themes that touch on our own call to discipleship.
Like all of Luke’s wonderful stories, we are meant to enter the scene, make it real for ourselves and respond in a way that opens us to the same graces and insights being sought by the characters Luke is describing. The Living Word is calling us, here and now.
Bartimaeus is a blind beggar who has lived much of his life on the sidelines, dependent on the charity of others. Whenever a crowd forms, he tries to get their attention and to give him alms, his only source of support. He has already heard about this new prophet and wonder worker, Jesus of Nazareth, and he decides to call out to him when he passes by. He uses a messianic title, “Son of David,” to show that he understands that God promised to send a messiah from the line of King David to save his people.
The crowd tries to quiet him, but Bartimaeus is determined to get Jesus’ attention. Perhaps to his surprise and certainly that of the crowd, Jesus hears and summons him in the midst of noise and confusion. “Jesus is calling you,” they say to him (and to us). “Get up and go to him. This is your big chance.”
The moment is charged with serious consequences, for if he leaves his spot along the road, he might lose it to another beggar, and if nothing happens, what will become of him? But he decides to risk everything, even his cloak, his only possession and protection from the cold nights.
It is in this determination and risk that we see the cost of discipleship. How many people are satisfied to remain on the sidelines, blind and limited, dependent on others but never finding their true calling or taking any chances.
Like the rich young man in last Sunday’s Gospel, Bartimaeus wants more, and he senses that Jesus can help him come into the light and take the next step.
With a question that goes to the heart of the call to discipleship, Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” He can ask for anything, but he asks to see, for sight is the key to every other possibility. If he can see, he can begin to live productively and independently, go where he chooses, support himself, find his way.
But what he sees first when his eyes are opened is the face of Jesus, and this encounter changes him forever. The look of love he receives, then returns, thrills his heart and he knows that there can be no real life for him except to follow Jesus, which is what he does.
What must we do to be saved, to have a full life? Let Bartimaeus be our teacher today, for he has made the journey from the sidelines to the road that leads to Jerusalem in the blessed company of Jesus and the other disciples. It is the road to glory, and once called, we should jump up and follow, for this is what it means to have life.