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. (Mk 10:47-48).
Though Bartimaeus is blind, he seems to “see” better and know who Jesus is. He does not just call out the name of Jesus, but “Jesus, Son of David.” This is not merely a genetic marker, but a Messianic title. Bartimaeus may have physical blindness, but he is one of the few in the Gospel of Mark to recognize Jesus is the Messiah. The disciples and crowd walking with him, the many who “rebuked him” showed their spiritual blindness, in that they prevented the blind man from coming to Jesus.
When we take time to read and meditate on this scriptural account, which part do we play? Are we like those in the crowd who follow and identify with Jesus, yet rebuke others seeking to come to Jesus? Do we foster a posture of other, embrace tribalism, nationalism, and contribute to division and polarization? If we do, we then are suffering from the very spiritual blindness that Jesus has come to heal.
Each thought we ponder and action we take ripples out from us and touches everyone. In what ways do we contribute to the rampant violence in our world? Do we gossip, spread false reports knowingly about others only to degrade and belittle? Do we pass dehumanizing images and memes on social media? Do we talk over or at people, do we impose our views not even willing to listen to another? The smallest act of indignity shown to another, whether it be a snide remark, a racial, ethnic, or sexist epithet, or any manner of disrespect contributes to the horrific reports that plague the news far too often.
In allowing Jesus to convict us by examining our conscience, we are better able to recognize our own blindness so as to recognize the impulses we have within us to build walls that promote division, separation, and violence. By opening ourselves up to the love of the Holy Spirit, we can instead work with him to build bridges of forgiveness, unity, and love. As we allow the light of Jesus to shine within us, our present darkness will dissipate and then we will be more willing to be a light for others by embracing one another as human beings. In assuming a posture of understanding, compassion, and empathy we can begin to see each other as brothers and sisters.
Darkness only remains if we embrace it and become the darkness. Let us be light. Hate only wins if we feed the hate. Let us promote love. We can come from the shadows and begin to see with new eyes when we have the humility of Bartimaeus and ask Jesus, “Master, I want to see.”