Bartimaeus and Jesus: Call and Response

Yesterday I entered into a retreat at the monastery led by Fr. Jim Clarke. I was suddenly free to attend when another commitment was canceled. During the course of the morning several others shared similar experiences. For me, this was the activity of the Spirit, bringing together those called to hear the message of healing being offered. The day was filled with sacred storytelling – from the pages of scripture and from our lives. The sound of water flowing in the baptismal font provided the backdrop and oil became sacred as we blessed each other’s stories, placing the sign of the cross on our partner’s forehead. It reminded me of ritual moments celebrated around the world when seekers begin to formalize their faith journey within a community. For me, it echoed my personal experience of traveling with my husband when he chose to become Catholic. The day brought a surprising forum for my dream from the night before, giving me the space to share and honor its meaning in my life, and a channel for healing to begin. But, the most important piece of wisdom I heard was that Jesus primarily asked questions.. that he gave very few answers. In today’s gospel we hear the story of the blind beggar Bartimaeus as he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”. A dialogue begins.

“And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; rise, he is calling you.’ And throwing off his mantle, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive my sight.” And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way, your faith has made you well.’ And he immediately received his sight and followed him on the way.” (Mk 10:49-52)

English: Close-up of Eric Gill relief, Moorfie...

Although this is primarily a story of healing, it is also a call narrative, like the call of the disciples earlier in the gospel and the call of Samuel in the Old Testament. Jesus calls for Bartimaeus and poses a question. The question provokes a response, a profession of faith and the formal beginning of discipleship. The word used here for healing is also indicative of discipleship. Bartimaeus throws off the old symbol of his life, the mantle, and embraces Jesus’ offer of a new vision. In many ways, the retreat I attended called forth the same things … throwing off what bound and blinded me, as depicted in my dream, professing my faith through my sacred story, and accepting a renewed call and vision of discipleship.

Have you ever had a Bartimaeus experience? Have you learned more from the questions or the answers in your life?

About WalkingwithBenedict

I love how scripture comes alive with messages for our lives today. In praying with scripture, we are called into deeper relationship with God and others. We are called to the growth in love, hospitality, peace, humility, stewardship and hope. St Benedict's Rule provides a lens for how scripture can be lived in our lives today whether we live inside or outside a monastery.
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4 Responses to Bartimaeus and Jesus: Call and Response

  1. Pat Van Horn says:

    I was living in MI at the time and I was in a neighborhood bible study, several Catholics and the rest were from different Protestant churches. I kept waiting for the moment that something would come that we had differing views on, but it never came. It was amazing to me that we were all on the same page. One day I was hanging my laundry on an outside clothesline and the wind was ferrous that day and I stopped and said ,” Father you are going to have to help me here, please. I need the wind to stop right now. It did.! I was struck with His presence in our lives, silly day to day things. He really does care about each of us. I could not wait to go to Bible study again and tell everyone, ” I get it now”. He is real and ever since that day I believe it changed my life. It may seem like a coincidence that the wind stopped but I never felt like it was. and I can still remember the day and I have forgotten so many things along the way that it seems like an experience of God to me. You don’t forget those.

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    • Pat, thanks for sharing So true that those “God” moments stay with us… the real presence of God being with us through every moment of every day and for me on into my dreams where he has helped me move forward through so many challenges that I couldn’t face during my waking hours. Your experience of the bible study is an excellent example of Jesus’ words “our father” being lived out. Thanks for remembering it and sharing.

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  2. barbneilon says:

    I was struck by the detail in the Bartimaeus story — that Jesus told others to call him, to tell Bartimaeus that Jesus wanted his attention. I remember several instances when God wanted my attention and used others to let me know. Often I am not only blind but deaf! It also tells me that we are also asked to let others know that God is speaking to them. I need to be aware that God may be asking me to call others, which means I must be listening for others as well, and speak up when I need to say “God is calling you.”

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    • Yes, the story really steps us through this call doesn’t it? Saint Benedict might suggest a recipe of discernment and listening with the ear of the heart to tackle this tough responsibility you speak of. Discerning our possible role in God’s call for others certainly requires a stance of humility. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Barb!

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