Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

blind bartimaeus.jpg

 Mark 10.46-52

“what do you want me to do for you?”

Over the past few weeks, we have noted that Jesus is ‘on the way’ to Jerusalem and how for Mark’s readers, who already know the full story, that means he is on the way to his death on the cross. Although Jesus has forewarned the disciples several times, they still cannot take in that he is to suffer and die; they want to follow him, but not necessarily on the way of the cross. In today’s Gospel reading, they are leaving Jericho on the last lap of their journey to Jerusalem.

And there sits Bartimaeus, a beggar, calling to him from “the side of the road” – an outsider, on the margins, not wanted, told by the people in the crowd to keep quiet! In contrast Jesus stops and says “call him here” – it’s an invitation they said, “courage, get up, he is calling you”. And Jesus invites him to speak for himself: “what do you want me to do for you?” This blind beggar, for all his lowly status, is a person in his own right, to be heard with dignity and respect. And he responds trustingly “Master, let me see again”, to be told by Jesus that his faith has saved him. Immediately, with sight restored, the cured beggar follows him “on the way”.

Mark tells the story to challenge and to encourage his readers. Following Jesus is demanding and sometimes we can feel distracted, weak and weary, forgetful that our real strength comes from God. So those telling words are addressed to us: “courage, Jesus is calling you”. And when we turn to him Jesus asks us, as he asked Bartimaeus, “what do you want me to do for you?” We are called by Jesus, but do we really want to see ‘the way’ he proposes? We are strongly influenced by the values and attitudes of the world in which we live, but ‘the way’ of Jesus turns our worldly ideas upside down. Jesus invites us personally not to sit at the side of the road, but to have faith and follow him. Do we really want to follow? Do we need to have our eyes opened afresh?