Some years ago, an unexpected snowstorm left my region of the country without power for almost a week. It was cold, difficult to sleep, impossible to cook. One of the hardest aspects was the darkness. With no streetlights, citizens could not see hazards in the way. At home, the darkness disoriented and isolated. The snowstorm disrupted familiar routines, and moving in darkness required concentration and effort.
I experienced the darkness as a brief inconvenience. But for those with visual impairments, darkness affects everything. Bartimaeus lived in the disruption of darkness, in isolation and helplessness. His blindness had pushed him to the margins of society; he was ignored and invisible, unworthy of notice or attention. Because he could not see, others usually did not see him. But those who are visually impaired often have other highly developed senses, and Bartimaeus heard things that others may not have heard. He knows something about Jesus that they seem not to have noticed: “When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
Bartimaeus recognizes Jesus as the Son of David, the Messiah. Jesus, in turn, sees the beggar for who he really is, the son (Bar) of Timaeus (honor or value)—a valued child of God. And when Bartimaeus cries out for mercy, for relief from his suffering, Jesus stops in his tracks and has those in the crowd call Bartimaeus to him. I imagine Jesus continues to speak, giving Bartimaeus a word to guide him and help him find his way. And then he asks the beggar a question he has asked others, ”What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36). This time he grants the request. Bartimaeus can see!
Jesus, when you ask me what I want you to do for me, may I respond with humility and faith. Amen.
Sometimes we can look back and see why challenging things happened to us, but this is not always the case. Job never fully understood his story but finally submitted his life to God in humility. In Job’s case, God restored with abundance. The psalmist also rejoices that although the righteous may suffer, God brings ultimate restoration. The reading from Hebrews continues celebrating Christ’s role as the compassionate high priest. Unlike human high priests, who serve only for a time, Christ remains our priest forever. A man without sight in Jericho knows of Jesus compassion and cries out for it, despite attempts to silence him. He asks Jesus for mercy, physical healing in his case, and Jesus granted his request because the man has displayed great faith.
• Read Job 42:1-6, 10-17. What are your happy and unhappy endings? How do you acknowledge both?
• Read Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22. When has an obstruction or impediment influenced your relationship with God?
• Read Hebrews 7:23-28. What distinction do you draw between sacrifice and offering? Which do you prefer?
• Read Mark 10:46-52. When have you been unable to see the blessing right in front of your eyes?
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