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In this Sunday’s Gospel we encounter Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, who on hearing that Jesus was near began to shout: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Several people rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he was undeterred. He kept calling out all the more; “Son of David, have pity on me.” When Jesus heard him, he called him over. In response we are told that Bartimaeus “threw aside his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus.” Jesus then asked him: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus’ response was immediate and clear. “Master, I want to see.” Jesus then healed him, and Bartimaeus “followed him on the way.”
There are three important moments in this story. The first is Bartimaeus’ persistence in calling out to Jesus. This reminds us that we too need to be persistent when we cry out to Jesus in prayer. We need to remember, though, that persistence in prayer always needs to be combined with an openness to how God might respond to that prayer. Second, I believe the fact that Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak is important. For a beggar a cloak was vitally important. Not only was it the target where people could throw their alms, but it was his shelter during the cold night. By throwing aside his cloak Bartimaeus was clear that he didn’t want anything to hinder him from coming to Jesus. Third, notice that after he was cured, Bartimaeus did not go his own way, but rather “followed” Jesus on his way. The encounter with Jesus was so life changing for Bartimaeus that Jesus’ way became his way.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. It announces the return of the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity. “I will gather them from the ends of the word, with the blind and the lame in their midst.”
In our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews. In the section we read this weekend we are reminded that Jesus was chosen by God to be our high priest and to intercede for us: “it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the One who said to him: You are my son; this day I have begotten you;”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Bartimaeus would not let anyone deter him from calling out to Jesus. Have you ever let anyone or anything keep you from calling out to Jesus?
- In the Gospel Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak so that it would not hinder his effort to get to Jesus. What do you need to throw aside in order to follow Jesus?
- What does the phrase “high priest” mean to you?