Bartimaeus and the Miracle of Faith
Jesus was about to leave Jericho with his disciples and a very large crowd was following them. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus was sitting curled up by the roadside. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” . . . And Jesus stopped and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” And Bartimaeus said to Him, “Master, I want to see.” And Jesus said to him, “Go on your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed Jesus on the road. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” Mark 10: 46 – 52
I’m probably not the only person reading this blog who has been in that dark place that imprisoned Bartimaeus. I’m probably not the only one of us who once sat curled up by the roadside of life begging Jesus for help. While our darkness may not have been physical like the blindness that afflicted Bartimaeus, it was, nevertheless, just as deep, just as crippling, just as painful. Who among us has never experienced his or her own personal time of darkness?
That darkness can take many forms. It can be the broken heart that remains after the loss of someone we have loved very deeply, or the sadness and fear that walks hand in hand into our mind when we suffer with anxiety and depression. It can be the news that we have cancer, or the pain and immobility of crippling arthritis or MS, or any of the many illnesses and conditions that afflict us human beings. It can be the fear and hopelessness that comes from losing employment, or the financial panic we experience when we see our savings, the funds we managed to put aside for our kids’ education or our own retirement, disappear in the face of worldwide recession. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.”
In the above Gospel Bartimaeus called out to Jesus from within his own personal darkness. And Jesus heard. He stopped, turned back to where Bartimaeus was sitting, and called to him,
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
“Master, I want to see, I want this darkness to leave me.”
And Jesus tells him, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.”
Miraculously, the darkness is lifted and Bartimaeus can see. He throws his cloak aside and gets up off the ground. But instead of going his own way he makes a choice, he chooses to follow Jesus. And so it is with each of us.
In one way or another, all of us have had personal times of darkness, times when we called out to Jesus for help. And Jesus did help us. And like Bartimaeus, we each made a choice: rather than going our own way after the darkness was lifted, we chose to follow Jesus – to follow him right up to this moment.
But we know that in life darkness comes and goes. That roadside cure wasn’t a one-time event for Bartimaeus, and neither was our own personal cure. I believe that, like us, Bartimaeus continued to have good days and bad days and times of darkness. But once called by Jesus, he – and we – experienced a miracle.
That miracle wasn’t a one-time cure against anything bad that might ever happen to us; no, that miracle was the gift of faith – faith to keep following Jesus, day after day through all the ups and downs, no matter what life hits us with.
Real faith, like the faith that saved Bartimaeus, is not the belief that we will never ever again have a bad day, never again be depressed or afraid, never again get sick, never ever lose a loved one, never reach the end of our earthly journey. Real faith is the conviction in our heart that whatever may come, we will get through it with God, that whether in this life or the next we will be healed of all darkness, all brokenness, we will be made whole. And my sisters and brothers, each of us has that faith – whether we actually realize it or not – or we wouldn’t have read this far.
As we go on with our life today and continue to follow Jesus, let us pray for each other that the miracle of faith be kept burning brightly in our hearts; and that the brightness of that miracle will dispel any darkness we may yet encounter in life.
And let us never, ever forget that Jesus is walking with us through all the darkness, all the brokenness, loving us, holding our hand, leading us safely home.
With love, Deacon Lex
Lex Ferrauiola is a husband, father, grandfather and a Catholic deacon serving as a pastoral minister and hospital chaplain within the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. His newest book, All Shall Be Well: Finding God Among the Pots and the Pans is available now.
$12.00 available at Amazon.com and through local booksellers (ISBN-13 979-8767368921)