Reading: Mk. 10:46-52
In the healing story of Bartimaeus, the blind man Jericho we have the picture of a man’s desperate need for help from God. There are so many individuals struggling to cope with their life’s problems. Some lose hope and give up on life. When belief in God becomes difficult, the tendency is to turn away from Him but in heaven’s name to what? It is one thing to hit away at the idea of God, try to knock of its foundations but it is difficult to come up with a rightful answer.
In their search for answers some commit suicide, some take to drugs, alcohol. There are others who prolong their existence rather than improving the quality of their lives. They take recourse to the cosmetic industry. They are adding years into life rather than adding life into years. But finally they realize that they are faced with a heart attack or cancer.
The story of Bartimeus, tell us that there is hope, if you seek God in the way he did. Do we have a desperate need for God? The need may be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual; it may be some problem with the mind, some desperate loneliness, or some tragic sin. Whatever it is, this story spells out the steps for getting help.
1. To Know Where Jesus Is: Jesus is in Jericho. Blind Bartimaeus knew this and sat by the roadside begging… A man must go where he knows Jesus is, where Jesus “Passes by.” A man must go where he can hear Jesus, or he may miss the chance of eternal life.
- Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. (Is 55:6)
- For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Lk 11:10)
2. Acknowledge Your Personal Need: The second step to getting help is acknowledging your personal need. As soon as Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus, he instantly began shouting out to attract Jesus, creating as much fuss and noise as he could above the crowd and its noise. The point is this: Bartimaues acknowledged his need, and he confessed it publicly. He did not approach Jesus secretly or quietly by asking someone close by to appeal to Jesus in his behalf. He was desperate for Jesus.
- This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. (Ps 34:6)
- The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps 34:18)
- “Out of the depths have I cried to thee, O Lord”. Ps 129.
3. Make Your Request: Bartimaeus knew exactly what he needed and had no difficulty in stating his need. He did not waver at all. He was not like many who are vague in their prayers and requests.
- “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Mat 21:22)
- “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me anything in my name, and I will do it.” (Jn 14:13-14)
- Jesus, of course, knew what Bartimaeus needed; but the Lord’s knowing about the man’s need was not enough. Bartimaeus has to make a personal confession to Jesus. “Who ever acknowledge me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my father in heaven. (Mt 10:32)
- Make your specific request, “Lord, I want to see again.” A specific request got a specific answer: “You faith has healed you” (Mk11:22)
4. Persistence: The fourth step to getting help is persistence and perseverance after Jesus. Many people tried to hush Bartimaeus, but he was desperate and determined and is dead earnest. He would not be discouraged, silenced or stopped. He repeatedly cried to the top of his lungs: “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Persevering prayer and persevering faith… Persistence always grabs the Lord’s attention.
- You will seek me and find when you seek me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)
- “The value of persistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will finally hear Him.” (William McGill)
- “Persistence takes a focus that doesn’t see the obstacles but only sees the opportunity…” (Doug Firebaugh)
5. Wait for Reply from God:
Jesus stopped – why did Jesus stop? – because of the man’s need, because the man had persisted in crying despite many opposing him, because Jesus never turned away from a man who cried for help. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (Jn 6:37)
The man threw aside his cloak, cast aside all impediments and approached Jesus when he heard that Jesus is calling him.
6. Response of Bartimaeus: Following Jesus – Discipleship. He “followed Jesus along the way.” Such a response from Bartimaeus:
- Demonstrates a heart full of appreciation, of being grateful and thankful.
- Demonstrates the idea of genuineness of conversion. He followed through.
- Demonstrates the idea of growing, of wanting to learn more and more about this Saviour of men.
Fr. John Parankimalil, SDB
Homily preached at Vincentian Prayer House,
Nairobi (Kenya) on January 3, 2013