Friday, October 23, 2009

Go our way or follow Jesus on the Way

Thirtieth Ordinary Sunday Year B

The story of Bartimaeus, the man who was once blind till he encountered Jesus, is a story of our journey in faith. Many of us, like Bartimaeus, are looking for something in life, some form of fulfillment, some kind of happiness, a meaning or direction in life, except that we feel absolutely helpless at times. We beg for love and attention, we beg for material things which we think will satisfy our longings, we beg for recognition and understanding. We wrapped ourselves in our own self-deceit, our own self-importance, our fears and our false sense of securities waiting for the answer to come along, someone or something who will free us from the bondage of our present condition.

Then Jesus comes along. Many voices stand in the way of discouraging us from reaching out to him. We hear the echoing voices of past failures reminding us of our folly and warning us of the grave possibility of repeating our mistakes. We hear the voices of cynicism that comes from past experiences of disillusionment. We hear other competing voices shouting out solutions and remedies. It’s hard to recognize the presence of Jesus in the midst of such cacophony. It’s easy to get lost and to just let Jesus pass by unnoticed.

But Bartimaeus was not discouraged nor daunted by these discouraging voices. He cried louder to Jesus. He cried so hard as if he had nothing to lose. He did have nothing to lose but so much more to gain. Someone once said that the only way in which we really get in touch with God is when we are down in the pits, when we come to terms that we are really and totally helpless and vulnerable. The drunkard who recognizes that he is no longer in control of his life, the sinner who realizes that he is totally loss without the light of God, the man who meets the dead end of his life and only has God as his only escape route.

Jesus invites Bartimaeus to come to him. It was as if everything led to this moment, and indeed it did. When asked by Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?,” Bartimaeus had only one request, the only thing he had been seeking for all his life, his sight. But Jesus gives him more. It is ironic, that we often see the small picture and lose sight of the bigger. We imagine that we want this or that, and that if we received it, it would be the happiest moment of our lives. And yet, what we really need is God, the salvation which Jesus meant in today’s gospel. The joy is not so much in gaining what we had been looking for, but recognizing the hand of the giver, the Lord God of Israel whom Jeremiah sings has “delivered his people.”

Jesus then gives Bartimaeus a choice, “Go your way …” But Bartimaeus, who can now see not only physically but also spiritually, decides that there is a better way, following Jesus on the way. Bartimaeus will no longer be satisfied being a beggar, sitting by the side of the road, waiting for something to happen or someone to come along. It’s time to take to the road, and follow in the wake of Jesus. This is his new direction and purpose in life. This is what had brought him new sight. This is the source of his salvation and joy.

Today, we all continue to look to Jesus with our own different needs, big and small. We have been given a choice. We can continue to receive from the hand of Jesus and go our own way, or we can choose to follow him on the way. This is the difference between the blind beggar and the seeing disciple. Which way will we take?

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