Are We Like Bartimaeus?

Today’s Gospel from St. Mark is one I love to pray with: Jesus’ encounter with the blind man Bartimaeus. Hearing Bartimaeus calling to him from the roadside, Jesus asks his followers to bring Bartimaeus to him. When they do, the first thing Jesus says to him is “What do you want me to do for you?”

What do you want? This is the first thing Jesus so often asked people when he met them. And He asks the same question of us. What do you want? What do you desire from me?

We are often uncomfortable talking about desires. We’ve been conditioned to be suspicious of our desires, to think that living a faithful Christian life means overcoming desires.

But to live vital and passionate lives requires that we pay serious attention to our desires when we discern how we are intended to live and love in this world. Our desires reflect the longings of our heart and point to an incompleteness in us that longs for fulfillment.

If, as Saint Iranaeus said, the glory of God is the human person fully alive, then desires are an incredibly important part of our discernment; getting in touch with our desires helps us discover what is lifegiving to us. Failing to take our desires seriously ignores (in the words of E. Edward Kinerk) “the greatest source of human vitality and passion which God has given us.”

Bartimaeus is able to name his desire.  Can you name yours when Jesus asks what you want?

But there is something else about Bartimaeus:  Look at his insistence in wanting to encounter Jesus! People are “sternly order[ing] him to be quiet,” trying to push him out of the way – saying essentially, you are not important enough to bother Jesus.  But Bartimaeus’ desire is so great he responds by crying out all the more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Do we display the same persistence in our desire to be close to God? Are we easily dissuaded when things are difficult? When others try to distract us?  Or do we show the same insistence as Bartimaeus that nothing will stand in the way of his encountering Jesus?

Some questions to sit with as you reflect on this passage.

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2 thoughts on “Are We Like Bartimaeus?

  1. Indeed some questions to reflect upon. . .

    “If, as Saint Iranaeus said, the glory of God is the human person fully alive, then desires are an incredibly important part of our discernment; getting in touch with our desires helps us discover what is lifegiving to us. Failing to take our desires seriously ignores (in the words of E. Edward Kinerk) ’the greatest source of human vitality and passion which God has given us.’ ”

    “Do we display the same persistence in our desire to be close to God? Are we easily dissuaded when things are difficult? When others try to distract us? Or do we show the same insistence as Bartimaeus that nothing will stand in the way of his encountering Jesus?”

    Is it possible to be “fully alive” if we encounter Jesus and walk with Him in silence only? With the somber declining trajectory religious affiliation (according to Pew and other studies) continues upon are we not called, more urgently than ever, to proclaim the good news to all nations – awakening within and strengthening the need to answer His question, “what do you want from me?”

    In silence are we clothing ourselves and embracing the mantle of ‘Catholic in name only’ – partaking of and receiving Sacramental grace and blessings while our faith families atrophy and the foundational structure of our faith crumbles before our very eyes?

    Indeed, Jesus’ message of love, and call to serve our brothers and sisters, and our religious ‘freedom’ is constantly besieged by external attacks. If our silence continues, who will lead others to encounter Jesus? The call of a ‘New Evangelism’ is not for pastoral leaders only – Is not the entire community of the faithful called? Called to ‘New Life’ – to answer (witness and profess) for ourselves today, tomorrow and eventually at the day of reckoning.

    Each year as we renew our Baptismal promises should we not ‘write’ our pledge upon our hearts – and also print and sign a copy to read and reflect upon?

    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
    ________________________________________

    As conforming to Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem, this Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity supercedes the Profession and Oath of 1989.
    – Ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFOATH
    ________________________________________
    I. PROFESSION OF FAITH

    “I, N., with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely:

    I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

    With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

    I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

    Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.”

    For the branches to bear good fruit, must not the trunk be ever strong and ‘true’? What internal forces are attacking our religious freedom? How long our silence? . . .

    God calls each by name, “Come! Follow Me”. . .

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