In the Gospel reading for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we not only hear, but see what faith looks like. This is the story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, who Jesus encounters, on the way to Jerusalem, where Jesus will be ultimately crucified.
Bartimaeus, blind from birth, and considered by most to be on the low end of society, was destined to sit by the side of the road, and beg for his basic needs in life. Bartimaeus had a garment, one that he used during the day to gather what people would toss his way, and as a shelter from the cold of the night. Being blind, his newspaper—his social media—was the information that his attuned ears could gather from those who passed by, and this is how he came to know about Jesus, the Nazorean.
As Jesus was passing by, Bartimaeus heard and asked who it was? Finding out it was Jesus, Bartimaeus yells out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” The apostles, disciples, the people attempt to silence Bartimaeus; not to bother Jesus with those on the periphery of society. Jesus teaches all of them a lesson, as he allows Bartimaeus to call out again and then calls Bartimaeus to himself. The disciples of Jesus are now going to the one on the fringe and telling Bartimaeus, “The Master is calling you.” They become the servant to the one on the fringe, on the low end of society.
The most important part of this reading happens at this moment when we hear that Bartimaeus throws off his garment, something that contains everything he owns in life, his very means of staying alive, and goes to Jesus. When asked “What do you want from me?” Instead of asking for wealth, so that others could serve him, he lays out a simple act of faith saying, “Lord, that I might see.”
Bartimaeus wanted physical sight, but Jesus also saw what was in his heart, and that was spiritual sight, the sight that enabled him to discard all he had in life to follow Jesus. What do our garments look like? Are we so much a part of the world that we become spiritually blind? Are we willing to discard our garments of this world, put on the garment, the armor of Christ, and truly see the truth?
Jesus is calling all of us to be like Bartimaeus, to recognize with spiritual sight those around us, especially the unborn, the homeless, the homebound, the marginalized. Let us all together walk toward the spiritual light of Truth, lighting our way, lighting our life.