October 28, 2018
Jesus stops at the request of a blind beggar and heals the blind beggar, Bartimaeus. Very interestingly, the name derived from bar-tim’ai which means “son of the unclean,” and of the allegorical meaning = the Gentiles or spiritually blind. He shouts “Son of David (King) have pity on me”. Cry of the helpless reaches the king.
“Unfortunately, like the “many” in the Gospel, there is always someone who does not want to stop, who does not want to be bothered by someone else crying out in pain. Preferring instead silence, they rebuke the person in need who is only a nuisance (cf. v. 48). There is the temptation to move on as if it were nothing, but then we would remain far from the Lord and we would also keep others away from Jesus. Pope Francis, in his homily, on Friday, 4 March 2016 said on this passage; “There are many who silence the poor, downtrodden, the exploited and marginalized from getting to Jesus. Many of us who are so judgmental, so critical and obsessed with self-righteousness fail to recognize that Jesus came for sinners. He very clearly said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mk 2:17. We can always become part of that crowd, noisy and discriminatory, but still not be able to stop Jesus’ attention because he hears the cry of His people. Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
I was in a correctional center as part of enculturation program to get claimetised to North American culture. There was an inmate who came to share her expectations and how she felt about her faith. She told us that she has been abused a number of times from her childhood. She entered into abusive relationships and has been in correctional facilities a number of times. She started reading the bible and found Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” She told us that she never dared to enter a church because she always thought that church is meant for only good people and sinners have no place there. When asked what is your expectation? She told us, “Please do not to push me away.”
Many a times we are part of the noisy crowd and push people away from getting close to Jesus. Whereas, all the missionaries and apostles of Christ went to the pagans, went to the gentiles and searched Bartimaeus (sons and daughter of Unclean) to make disciples. Today we are turning away people we do not want, to see any unclean. We are pressurized by the noise of the crowed. Is there a place for Mathew the tax collector, Paul who persecuted and Thomas who doubted, and many more whom Jesus touched and reached out to make them saints?
Pope Francis calls that the face of God is mercy and are we not eclipsing that face by becoming the noise of the crowd who tries to silences Bartimaeus among us? We can become the part of the crowed very easily, which wants to punish, persecute and kill. I still remember the story that I learned as a primary kid. One day a mother left a child in the hands of a mongoose while she was working in the fields. On her return she found the mongoose coming out of the room and having blood on its face. She thought the mongoose has killed the child in its custody. She was so furious and kills the mongoose. When she goes into the room realizes that there was a dead snake next to the cradle in which child was playing happily with toys. Mother realizes that there was a fight between the snake and mongoose and the mongoose she had just killed had saved the life of the child from the attack of the snake. The moral of the story being if we slow down and think, we will see the truth. Truth is, Jesus loves the poor, the sinners, and the exploited and we need to make space for them. There was a time people were even dehumanized in order to justify violence against them.
Let us be sincere and acknowledge our own sinfulness rather than throwing stones at others. Let us not become the part of the crowd that makes noise in order to silence the truth. Love can conquer and heal. Justice without mercy is brutal and many more sayings can be quoted. For me what Mahatma Gandhi said stands out, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Let us not become the part of that blind world, but rather be part of the “Merciful face of God”.