October 24, 2015

30th Sunday - B


Bartimaeus Follows Jesus on the Way

Last week, we listened to James and John asking Jesus for a favor. Today, we heard Bartimaeus' request.

Let's compare Bartimaeus with James and John.

James and John were among the first people Jesus called at the very beginning of his public ministry (Mark, Chapter 1). They are two of the Twelve, those closest to Jesus. Moreover, James and John, often with Peter, have the privilege of being with Jesus on very special occasions. For example, Jesus let them witness the Transfiguration (Mark, Chapter 8) and the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark, Chapter 5).

Bartimaeus, on the contrary, is a blind beggar. He is not even in the crowd following Jesus. He is nobody. And he has nothing. His sole possession seems to be the cloak, which he even “throws aside” when Jesus calls him.

These opposite background details provides a stark contrast between Bartimaeus and James and John.

James and John addresses Jesus simply as, “Teacher.” Bartimaeus acknowledges Jesus as the “Son of David” and “Master” (or “Lord” in some other translations.)

James and John approach Jesus and demand, ““Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

Bartimaeus is much humbler. He simply pleads with Jesus, “Have pity on me.”

James and John ask for places of honor and power, sitting at Jesus' right and left even though they have been told three times what awaits Jesus in Jerusalem. They are with Jesus, but they are not really following him.

James and John have eyes but they do not see.

Bartimaeus had no sight but he could see.

And once given sight, Bartimaeus is told “go your way.” However, he follows Jesus “on the way,” which is the way to Jerusalem [1], the way of humility and sacrifice, the way of loving service.


[1] In Mark, Jesus' enters Jerusalem immediately after this story of the healing of Bartimaeus. http://www.agnusday.org/comics/124/mark-1046-52-2006.

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