30th Sunday B 9th October
Courage, Get Up!
As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, 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.'
Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him here.' So they called the blind man. 'Courage,' they said, 'Get up; he is calling you.' So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, 'What do you want me to do for you?' 'Rabbuni,' the blind man said to him, 'Master, let me see again.' Jesus said to him, 'Go; your faith has saved you.' And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.
If you would like to get a glimpse of what God is doing in the world today, I invite you to look at the story of Bartimaeus. Wherever you see someone treated the way Jesus treated him, there you see God at work. Bartimaeus had three problems: he was blind, he was a beggar, and he was on the side of the road as the world passed him by. Jesus did not pass him by. When he heard him shouting, he stopped. Whenever Jesus heard someone in distress, however busy he was, he stopped, he did not pass by on the other side. Then Jesus called him from the margins into the middle of the crowd and made him the centre of attention.
It seemed obvious what the blind man needed, but Jesus did not presume to decide without asking, 'What do you want me to do for you?' Jesus restored his sight but gave the credit for the miracle to the man himself, 'Your faith has saved you.' Jesus saw not only the man's blindness and his poverty, he also saw his greatness. Imagine that man telling the story for the rest of his life and always marveling, 'You know what he said? He said it was my faith that cured me.'
Left totally free.
Then Jesus said, 'Go!' Jesus made no demand on him or did not make him feel that he was now indebted to him; he left him totally free to go his way. In all of this, Jesus brought the best out of Bartimaeus. He chose to become a follower of Jesus. He was no longer on the side of the road, he was on the road with Jesus making his own unique contribution.
From the beginning to the end of this story Jesus shows us how people need to be treated if they are to grow and flourish, become their best selves and make their contribution in life. In the story we see God at work two thousand years ago. Now we make this bold claim: what Jesus did for Bartimaeus, he continues to do today. We see it in small ways and in big ways.
Ready to play their part.
A mother hears her child crying. She stops what she is doing immediately and goes to her. The child may have fallen, or feels badly treated by a sister or brother. The mother holds her and gives her full attention and asks, 'What is wrong? What happened? What do you want me to do for you?' Often this loving attention and practical help enables the child to get over her distress. In a while she is up and going again - and feels in no way indebted for the care she has received. In this atmosphere of love and respect, children grow into mature adults, ready to play their part in the adult world.
Prayer: From Psalm 72.
The Lord will save the poor when they cry,
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor.
Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel,
who alone works wonders,
ever blessed his glorious name.
Let his glory fill the earth.