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."
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
Today’s Gospel story of blind Bartimaeus—the man who receives his sight from Jesus—brings back memories. In grade school I read a fictional story of the life of Bartimaeus prior to that encounter with Jesus. It’s what’s called the “back story” in movies—the history of the character not portrayed on the screen. I don’t remember the name of that book, but the memory has been with me all these years.
Imagining a whole life history for Bartimaeus helps me to put his response to Jesus into a context. We don’t know the real story of course, and can only work with what Mark gives us.
But I think that like Bartimaeus, each of us is a person with some degree of faith. You wouldn’t be attending to my words here if you weren’t. Like him, we want to see. Our deepest wishes, our courage when we take a risk, the generosity we might feel in response to God’s grace, are all inside of us like they were in Bartimaeus.
Today, God invites us to step out of our personal stories into the lights, in front of the camera, and into the story of the Kingdom. What a thrilling and dramatic moment it is as we hear the Lord ask us, “What do you want me to do for you?”
And our response…?
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In the first reading (Jer 31:7-9), Jeremiah speaks the word of the Lord to the house of Israel. Is the message good news or bad?
What will the Lord do for the house of Israel?
According to the second reading (Heb 5:1-6), what is the big deal, the importance, of this message?
Can anyone take the role of high priest upon himself or herself?
In this week's Gospel (Mk 10:46-52), who is Bartimaeus? What did he do when he heard that Jesus was passing nearby?
What did some of the people tell Bartimaeus? Did he do what they told him?
What did Bartimaeus ask for? Did Jesus give him what he asked for?
How would you answer the question posed at the end of the Understand section above? Take some time to think about it and then write out your thoughts. You can share them with your family or keep them to yourself.
In the Gospel, Bartimaeus is blind but has his sight restored. If you lost your vision, what do you think you would miss being able to see the most?