Saint Josemaria
Quotations from Saint Josemaria

Bartimaeus

Tags: Love of God, Faith
And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mk 10:46-47).


I recommend that you meditate slowly on the events preceding the miracle, to help you keep this fundamental idea clearly engraved upon your minds: what a world of difference there is between the merciful Heart of Jesus and our own poor hearts! This thought will help you at all times, and especially in the hour of trial and temptation, and also when the time comes to be generous in the little duties you have, or in moments when heroism is called for.

Many of them rebuked him, telling him to be silent (Mk 10:48). As people have done to you, when you sensed that Jesus was passing your way. Your heart beat faster and you too began to cry out, prompted by an intimate longing. Then your friends, the need to do the fashionable thing, the easy life, your surroundings, all conspired to tell you: Keep quiet, don’t cry out. Who are you to be calling Jesus? Don’t bother him.

But poor Bartimaeus would not listen to them. He cried out all the more: Son of David, have pity on me. Our Lord, who had heard him right from the beginning, let him persevere in his prayer. He does the same with you. Jesus hears our cries from the very first, but he waits. He wants us to be convinced that we need him. He wants us to beseech him, to persist, like the blind man waiting by the road from Jericho.

And Jesus stopped, and told them to call him. Some of the better people in the crowd turned to the blind man and said, Take heart. Rise up, he is calling you (Mk 10:49). Here you have the Christian vocation! But God does not call only once. Bear in mind that Our Lord is seeking us at every moment: get up, he tells us, put aside your indolence, your easy life, your petty selfishness, your silly little problems. Get up from the ground, where you are lying prostrate and out of shape. Acquire height, weight and volume, and a supernatural outlook.

Whereupon the man threw away his cloak and leapt to his feet, and so came to him. (Mk 10:50). He threw aside his cloak! I don’t know if you have ever lived through a war, but many years ago I had occasion to visit a battlefield shortly after an engagement. There, strewn all over the ground, were overcoats, water bottles, haversacks stuffed with family souvenirs, letters, photographs of loved ones... which belonged, moreover, not to the vanquished, but to the victors! All these items had become superfluous in the bid to race forward and leap over the enemy defenses. Just as happened to Bartimaeus, as he raced towards Christ.

Never forget that Christ cannot be reached without sacrifice. We have to get rid of everything that gets in the way: overcoat, haversack, water bottle. You have to do the same in this battle for the glory of God, in this struggle of love and peace by which we are trying to spread Christ’s kingdom. In order to serve the Church, the Pope and all souls, you must be ready to give up everything superfluous, to be left without a cloak to shelter you from the bitter cold of night, without your much loved family souvenirs, without water to refresh you. This is the lesson taught us by faith and love. This is the way that we must love Christ.

And now begins a dialogue with God, a marvelous dialogue that moves us and sets our hearts on fire, for you and I are now Bartimaeus. Christ, who is God, begins to speak and asks, Quid tibi vis faciam? What do you want me to do for you? The blind man answers, Lord, that I may see. (Mk 10:51). How utterly logical! How about yourself, can you really see? Haven’t you too experienced at times what happened to the blind man of Jericho? I can never forget how, when meditating on this passage many years back, and realizing that Jesus was expecting something of me, though I myself did not know what it was, I made up my own aspirations: Lord, what is it you want? What are you asking of me? I had a feeling that he wanted me to take on something new and the cry Rabboni, ut videam, Master, that I may see, moved me to beseech Christ again and again, Lord, whatever it is that you wish, let it be done.

But let us go back to the scene outside Jericho. It is now to you that Christ is speaking. He asks you, What is it you want of me? That I may see, Lord, that I may see. Then Jesus answers, Go. Your faith has brought you recovery. And all at once he recovered his sight and followed Jesus on his way (Mk 10:52). Following Jesus on his way. You have understood what Our Lord was asking from you and you have decided to accompany him on his way. You are trying to walk in his footsteps, to clothe yourself in Christ’s clothing, to be Christ himself: well, your faith, your faith in the light Our Lord is giving you, must be both operative and full of sacrifice. Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think you are going to find new ways. The faith he demands of us is as I have said. We must keep in step with him, working generously and at the same time uprooting and getting rid of everything that gets in the way.
Friends of God, 195-196