October 24, 2021
“On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out and say,
‘Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.’
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But he kept calling out all the more,
‘Son of David, have pity on me.’
Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
‘Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.’
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
The blind man replied to him, ‘Master, I want to see.’”
The blind man, Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was ready. To say he was in the right place at the right time would be to minimize his effort. He was positioned to take advantage of Jesus passing by. The years of sitting by the roadside prepared him for this moment. He called out and, in the face of obstacles, he called out all the more. When called himself, he threw aside his cloak, letting go of whatever might hold him back. Notice that he sprang up. Like a sprinter in the starting blocks, he was poised to move. When asked what he wanted, he did not hesitate. He knew exactly what he wanted to say. He dared to dream of this moment, to imagine how he would respond. The faith that saved him wasn’t just a last second improvisation. It was a deep seated desire, a life oriented toward a goal. He was given the freedom to go on his way by Jesus, whatever way he chose. His choice, of course, was to follow Jesus. Step by step, moment by moment, that was the direction of all his efforts. When God called, he was ready.
We are more apt to hedge our bets. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” we think. We second guess our commitments and opportunities becoming more suspicious of intentions and outcomes. We act cautiously and hesitantly, fearing that we may miss out on something better or more exciting that will come along soon. With the tidal wave of entertainment, medial, external stimuli, and noise, it is hard to be reflective or to gaze inwardly in silence. We are uncertain, a times, of what we really want. We may take a socially prescribed path to success or venture out unconventionally, but this is often reflexive and lacks intentionality or coherence with our deepest desires. We feel unfulfilled, adrift, or frustrated. We may become frantic, grabbing for anything that promises a change or, conversely, we may become lethargic, losing hope for something better. When God calls, we often miss it, avoid it, delay it, ignore it, or deny it. The moment passes us by because we are not ready.
Bartimaeus can be an example for us. Another model is Mary. When the angel appeared, she said yes. She, too, was ready. It is true that God is patient with us. He calls to us over and over again, gives us opportunity after opportunity to respond, and redirects our paths when we go astray. God is patient and persistent. We need, however, to be in the moment, poised to respond to God’s grace, ready to say yes, throw off our cloak, and spring up. It can be a fundamental disposition of our soul, an openness to the Spirit, an adventure of faith. We can incline our will to the will of God. We can genuinely and deeply decide that when the call comes, however it comes, we will respond. We will say yes. Are you ready?