I’ve long been intrigued by Bartimaeus, the blind beggar of Jericho, whom we encounter in Mark’s gospel.
The story’s been stirring in my heart since we heard it retold at Mass a few days ago; it bubbled up there again today on the feast of Corpus Christi—when we celebrate how we are fed by the body and blood of Christ.
Most of us can identify with Bartimaeus, I imagine:
- Like him, we live our lives far from the center of the action—in Jericho, not Jerusalem…and on the outskirts of town at that.
- We often find ourselves frustrated by the brokenness in our lives—the literal or figurative disabilities that seem to prevent us from becoming all we think we were meant to be.
- And try as we might, we don’t get much help from ‘the crowd.’ We feel rebuked as often as encouraged by those around us.
But there are times, too, when we are blessed by a close encounter with the Lord. We hear that He is passing by…and somehow, find the courage—despite our brokenness, despite our insignificance—to call on Jesus.
Then, to our utter amazement, the Teacher pauses for a moment…to focus on us. We hear him ask, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And after pouring out our hearts, we are stirred and astonished by what He says next:
‘Go your way; your faith has saved you!’
Finding you, Jesus—here, in this out of the way place: What a gift!
And then, more: Receiving your blessed assurance—that I am, that we are, already whole. That we are already holy —touched by God, even in our brokenness.
It is very much like the lesson Jesus has for the apostles in today’s gospel when they find themselves in a deserted place, surrounded by five thousand hungry people. ‘Give them some food yourselves,’ he says. As if to say: You are stronger, more capable, than you think you are. Believe this: Because you are connected to Me, you have blessings to share. Blessings in abundance—twelve wicker baskets full!
How often we are like Bartimaeus: Living in fear and frustration, blind to the profound goodness that has been poured out on us as children of God.
But on the feast of Corpus Christi, we are reminded that we need not succumb to that fear. Jesus counters with an invitation:
Consume my Body and Blood—and become what you eat.
See, at last, who you truly are…who you are meant to be!