“Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me”
There is something really special about today’s Gospel reading. It is not only about the faith of the blind Bartimaeus or the fact that he refused to be silenced by the crowd who apparently wanted to shut him up but his understanding of who Jesus is. Looking at the whole picture, I asked myself why this very gospel pericope comes just immediately after the last week’s account that showed the shallow understanding of who Jesus is by his disciples-James and John (Mk 10:32-45)? Bartimaeus seems to have heard a great deal about Jesus. According to the gospel; “As Jesus left Jericho … Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me. And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, Son of David, have pity on me” (Mk 10:46-52 JB). In these few sentences, we see a man with deep personal awareness of the life and mission of Jesus, who came to liberate and to restore the sight of his people (Lk 4:18-20).
The fact that he refused to be silenced by the people around him shows that he was not only in great need of healing but that he was confident that Jesus has the power to restore him to good health. He teaches us that resilience in the face of challenges and suffering is very important in the life of every man and woman. The world is not a bed of roses. What would have happened had Bartimaeus succumbed to the voices that wanted to shut him up? Probably he would not have been healed.
His response when Jesus called him was a bit dramatic as “he threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and hurried over to Jesus (Mk 20:50). Apparently, as bishop Anthony Gbuji said “he (Bartimaeus) had no doubt that Jesus would do what he asked; at the very least, he wasn’t afraid of hearing a “no”. Somehow, Bartimaeus knew that Jesus loved him. Like a child, he acted aggressively, confident of that love. And at the end Jesus commended him (Mk 10:52). The truth is that Jesus wants us to have an attitude similar to that of Bartimaeus.
I think it is his deep understanding of who Jesus is and the resolute trust and faith in him that led him to follow Jesus on the road as the scripture says immediately after his healing and restoration. May we like Bartimaeus call out; “Son of David, Jesus take pity on me” as I place my hope in you whenever we encounter challenges and hindrances on our journey to eternal life. Amen.
Fr Leonard Uzuegbu