The tenth chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel is filled with many stories the last of which is the Gospel for the day. We hear the story of the blind beggar on the roadside just outside Jericho. The beggar’s name is Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. There he will die on a cross to save us from our sins. Bartimaeus calls out as Jesus passes by, asking that he show him a little pity. Jesus asks him what he wants. Of course the blind man asks him for the gift of sight.
Jesus then says to him: “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” (Mark 10:52a) However, Bartimaeus does not go on his way. He follows Jesus. He goes to Jerusalem with Jesus. What happened to him once they got there we never learn. However, the Gospel gives us just a little bit of a hint. Mark writes: “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” (Mark 10:52b) Could it be that Mark is indicating that Bartimaeus became a disciple of Jesus? Before it was known as Christianity, the community referred to themselves as people of “The Way.”
Jesus clearly gives the man permission to return to his family and his former way of life. Bartimaeus chooses to follow Jesus. He had no way of knowing what was going to happen to Jesus once they got to Jerusalem. Perhaps he witnessed Jesus’ death. Perhaps he, like all the other disciples, ran away when Jesus was arrested. However, I have always cherished the belief that Bartimaeus became a man of The Way.
If I place myself in the story and heard Jesus ask me, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51a), what would I respond? I have been asking myself that question ever since I read the Gospel this morning. What do I want Jesus to do for me? No matter how many times I pose the question, however, I keep coming back to the ultimate issue; namely, what would I do if Jesus gave me that for which I asked? Could I follow him to Jerusalem? The question nags at me.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator