With new eyes
The cure of blind Bartimaeus is recounted by Mark to urge Christian communities to get out of their blindness and mediocrity. Only thus will they be able to follow Jesus on the way of the Gospel. The account has surprising relevance to the current situation of the Church of our day.
Bartimaeus is “a blind man sitting by the roadside begging.” It is always night in his life. He has heard others speak of Jesus, but he does not know what he looks like. He cannot follow him. He is by the side of the road on which Jesus walks, but he is outside. Isn’t this our situation? Blind Christians sitting by the roadside, unable to follow Jesus?
Among us, it is night. We do not know Jesus. We do not have the light to follow his way. We do not know which direction the Church is headed. We do not even know what future we want for it. Settled in a religion that can’t manage to turn us into followers of Jesus, we live alongside the Gospel, but outside. What can we do?
Despite his blindness, Bartimaeus senses that Jesus is passing by close to him. Not an instant of doubt on his part. Something tells him his salvation lies in Jesus: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” This repeated faith-filled cry is going to unleash his cure.
Today we hear in the Church people complaining, lamenting, criticizing, protesting and discrediting one another. The humble and confident plea of the blind is not listened to. We have forgotten that only Jesus can save this Church. We do not perceive how close he is. We only believe in ourselves.
The blind man does not see, but he knows how to listen to the voice of Jesus that comes through those he has sent: “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.” This is the climate we need to create in the Church. To encourage ourselves mutually to react. Not to go on installed in a conventional religion. To return to Jesus who is calling us. This is the primary pastoral objective.
The blind man reacts in an admirable manner: he throws aside the cloak that prevents him from getting up, he springs up in the dark and approaches Jesus. From his heart arises only one request: “Master, I want to see.” His eyes are opened, and everything will change. The account ends saying that the blind man recovered his sight and “followed him on the way.”
This is the cure that we Christians need today. The quality leap that can change the Church. If we change our way of looking at Jesus, if we read the Gospel with new eyes, if we capture the originality of his message and are passionate about his project of a more human world, the strength of Jesus will draw us. Our communities will know the joy of living following Jesus closely.