‘Master, grant that I may see.’
In the Gospel today, we hear of Jesus restoring Bartimaeus’ sight. Bartimaeus was a blind beggar by the side of the road. He would have had nothing and had to rely on the generosity of others to keep him alive and fed. As is often the case in our modern world, those who find themselves in destitute situations are often looked down upon, or even blamed for their circumstances. People who are well off can sometimes be the ones who are ‘blind’ to the cry of the poor and overlook their needs, and rather than raise a hand to help, they will cast them aside – a bit like the crowd who scolded Bartimaeus when he called out for Jesus to have pity on him.
I think Bartimaeus is an interesting character and a good reminder of what is important. Note that He was not yet a follower of Jesus. It is not the crowd who are credited for following Jesus. Many of them probably were just following to see who this great teacher was. Some would have believed in who Jesus was, others would have had their doubts, and then there were those who were firmly convinced of Jesus’ message and identity – the disciples. Yet it is not even the disciples who are credited with faith on this occasion – it is the ‘blind’ Bartimaeus who, despite his physical blindness, could ‘see’ more deeply and recognize that there was something special about Jesus. This in turn led him to jump up and go to Jesus (remember, he is blind). Bartimaeus was ready to take a ‘walk of faith.’ He didn’t cry out, ‘Lord, I can’t see the way, come here.’ Instead he went, not knowing the way, to Jesus and this encounter with Jesus brought him to true faith and discipleship.
When Jesus calls to us, what is our response? Do we simply mingle with the crowd, do we just follow along, or like Bartimaeus, do we leap up, step out and place our trust in Jesus and be ready to follow His call? In essence, are we ready to take a leap of faith and become a disciple?
Disciples are called to trust, to step out and become missionary. This weekend is also Mission Sunday. It is a timely reminder that even as we begin to regather in our Church building, we are still called to step out in faith and go be missionary disciples in the world. May the Lord grant us the faith of Bartimaeus to see beyond our own ‘blindness,’ to step out in faith and bring the light of faith into a world that cries out for something better, but is still ‘blind’ to the message of the Gospel.