Today’s reading from Mark 10:46-52 teaches us about our role in helping others and our role in addressing God for our needs.
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,
Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,
sat by the roadside begging.
On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out and say,
“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”
Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
Immediately he received his sight
and followed him on the way.
I’ve read a few commentaries about this reading. One in particular struck me that remarked on Jesus’ call to Bartimeaus to tell Him what he wanted, God wanting to hear from us what it is that we want.
But what struck me was how the crowd was ignoring the plight of Bartimeaus, telling him to be silent. We see echoes of that today with the marginalization of the sick, the disabled, the mentally ill, the weak. People often lack compassion or sympathy, even empathy. They call those in need lazy or unworthy of help.
Jesus has always championed the marginalized and those that others disregard. He always spent time with the poor, the sick, the widows, the orphans, and the sinners. And here in this reading, Jesus stops where He is going. Instead of going over to Bartimeaus, Jesus tells the others, “Call him.” He commands the crowd to recognize this needy man, to interact with him instead of marginalizing him.
And so with the encouragement now of the crowd, Bartimeaus leaps up from the side of the road and approaches Jesus. Jesus then asks Bartimeaus, “What do you want me to do for you?” It was probably pretty obvious to Jesus, but Jesus wanted Bartimeaus to ask in His name, for whatever we ask in Jesus name will be given us. That is, whatever is truly worthy.
Bartimeaus had faith in Jesus and asked, “Master, I want to see.” And Jesus healed him, saying, “Your faith has saved you.”
So two important lessons jump out at me. First, Jesus engaging the crowd in the plight of the downtrodden, the weak, the disabled, the ill, saying it isn’t just up to God to care for these least among us but up to us as well. Second, Jesus engaging the blind man, saying ask and it will be given you — then delivering. That encourages us to dialog with God when we are in need and have faith that he hears us and will answer us.
Love is seeing a need and filling it. Love is not waiting for God to solve the world’s problems, but taking action in God’s name. Love is trusting God to help us in our need and asking in His name. Love is being grateful to God and following Him on the way.
And remember, Love is the Most Important Commandment!