Yesterday we had that great gospel account of the healing of Bartimaeus, the blind man on the roadside near the town of Jericho. It’s one of my favourite Gospel passages and I am always happy when, like Jesus on that far off day, it makes its appearance in our Liturgical Cycle.
I like it because, being something of a dreamer, I like to imagine happy endings. I know they are not always possible and that they are often replaced by sadness and tragedy but, in the dreamer’s world, there’s always room for belief in things working themselves out.
Better endings don’t come much better than a man beginning the day unable to see and ending the day with 20/20 vision. That’s how it went for Bartimaeus. An encounter with the one he had heard of and had come to believe in took him to that place for which he had longed – a place of vision, vision that led to new independence and independence that led to a choice to “follow” Jesus along the way.
I sometimes imagine asking children in school to draw a picture of this gospel moment. I can see them with blank sheet and crayons beginning to capture the scene. Most likely Jesus with Bartimaeus, maybe touching his eyes or just looking at him. Perhaps some of them might add speech bubbles with Bartimaeus saying thanks to Jesus. I think it likely most of the pictures would feature the two – since they are the story and the ones named. I have no doubt the pictures would be lovely.
There’s more to it though, than just the two. Let’s think about it for a little while. Bartimaeus sits, as it’s likely he did most days, on the side of the road. The world, even the small world of a town, village or even city, passes him by and one day passes to the other with little by way of joy or opportunity. His senses are in tune though and being aware of more traffic than usual he asks what is happening. Someone tells him “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by”. I often think that person, whoever he or she was, deserves the “Man of The Match” award since he or she gave Bartimaeus the chance to seek help. He didn’t need to be given the chance a second time, calling out; “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me” he seized the moment.
…… (to be continued … what do you think???)