Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52
I would draw your attention to one detail in today’s Gospel: Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and runs to Jesus. A poor man’s cloak may be his only possession. If he has to pawn it, the Jewish pawn-broker had to return it to him at sundown, so he could sleep in it, sheltering himself from the cold.
Does Bartimaeus have nothing to lose?
This cloak isn’t just a possession, its his identity. He’s a blind beggar with no craft or skill; if his life changes, how can he support himself?
Do you remember as a very young child, something–a stuffed animal, a blanket, an acorn–a pet or something growing in the garden–that you cherished? Perhaps adults tried to separate you from it; perhaps they respected your attachment; or you kept it secret.
I wonder now whether I was projecting onto that “treasure” the wonder of being someone rather than being no one, a wonder I had no words or comprehension or concepts to capture, as it had captured me.
Then a day arrived when I outgrew it and forgot all about it. That day was probably the last time any of us so easily let something go. As we became self-conscious and began to construct who we thought we are, letting go became a struggle. Just look at the phenomenon of hoarding n our culture!
I suspect that Bartimaeus must have thoroughly explored his blindness and who he thought he was. Like a cat trapped in a capacious linen closet, he must have patiently, fearlessly investigated the limits of his condition and it just wasn’t good enough to settle in. He listened attentively till he recognized who could let him out.
Spiritually, didn’t he already see? He recognizes who Jesus is! Risking life as he knows it, he desires the fullness of life. At the end of this passage, seeing, he follows Jesus; he takes the path of the disciple, even though Jesus is headed for rejection in Jerusalem.
Like the rich young man a few Sunday’s back, are we only impeded by our wealth? Is that what drags me back? Aren’t there beggars with less than Bartimaeus who wouldn’t risk who they think they are, to follow Jesus’ difficult path to the fullness of life?