To pray always without becoming weary (Lk. 18:1—NABRE)
St. Augustine reminds Proba of the teaching that discounts talkativeness: our Father knows beforehand our needs. Hence, we are asked to pray not so that God may know what we want, but rather so that we may have a greater capacity to desire and receive divine gifts.
Bartimaeus shows he has a great capacity to desire and receive. The more they rebuke him, the more he cries out. Thus, informed of no more than Jesus’ invitation, the beggar throws aside his cloak, springs up and goes to the one who calls him. He accepts the call with alacrity, just like Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew. He recovers his sight and receives besides the gift of discipleship.
But the previously blind gets to follow Jesus on the way only because the latter has stopped in order to attend to him. He who is the image of the invisible God hears the cry of the poor. He leads the disadvantaged in a new march to freedom, including those who are usually left behind, the blind, the lame, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Jesus does not want to leave anybody behind. He disagrees with those who, bent on either satisfying their curiosity or contributing to the immediate establishment of the kingdom, disregard those who may delay them. He does not go along with men, fit and with gravitas, who scold pleading blind people and dependent children (Mk. 10:13), nor with those who claim to love humanity and seek the common good, yet end up being something like a “caricature of a Christian,” to use a phrase from St. Vincent de Paul, since they have neither affective nor effective compassion for the person sitting by the wayside of society whom they would rather sacrifice to their grandiose dreams. Christ, the God-appointed High Priest who was tested like us in every way, yet without sin, feels for the neglected weak folks.
And though existing with God in the beginning, the Word made flesh does not act like the father who knows best with absolute certainty. The paternalistic prescribes remedies looking for diseases. He proposes cerebral clarifications of doctrine to those of weak will, as though irrefutable arguments would solve emotional restlessness or that logical thinking would be a guarantee of right conduct (cf. Rom. 7:15). For his part, Jesus asks: “What do you want me to do for you?” The suffering healer fulfills Bartimaeus’ ardent desire only after hearing him express it.
What Jesus seeks to accomplish is that, through the breaking of bread and prayers, in which we reveal what we want, we may have a greater capacity to desire and receive the Body of Christ and may know, unlike James and John, what we are asking. This means we are going “to leave God for God,” as St. Vincent puts it, and we will let the marginalized stop us. We will assist them and share with them, according to each one’s need, the much or the little we have, lest anyone be left behind.