'Master, I want to see!'.
Blindness afflicting humanity
The dark void of human alienation from the Creator is powerfully symbolized by the blindness that humankind easily becomes afflicted with. Prophets have consequently seen the cure of blindness as one of the signs of the coming of God's kingdom (Isaiah 26:19; 29:18-19). Jesus Himself understood it so, as He claimed early on in His public ministry that He has been sent precisely to proclaim such 'recovery of sight to the blind' (Luke 4:18). And to John's emissaries He cited as a clue to His messianic identity that by Him 'the blind regain their sight' (Matthew 11:5).
Mark 8:22-26 has already narrated how a blind man was cured by Jesus in lakeside Bethsaida. People brought the blind man to Jesus requesting Him to touch the man. Taking the man demonstratively by the hand outside the village to be with Him, and starting off with spittle on the man's eyes, Jesus ceremoniously and progressively gave back His sight. His final, strange instruction to the man who fully recovered his sight was: 'Do not even go into the village.' The man was not to return anymore to his previous world devoid of light. Blindness is to be abhorred, and humanity must be freed from it.
'Have pity on me.'
The cure of the blind beggar named Bartimaeus just outside Jericho is particularly significant for the evangelist Mark. It is supposed to stand out in contrast to the blindness and lack of faith of the disciples, especially the sons of Zebedee, as we saw in the foregoing Sunday (Mark 10:35-45). Things happen here differently. The blind man himself, sitting by the roadside and hearing that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, seizes the opportunity and cries out loud: 'Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!' And he refuses to be silenced by the rebukes of the crowd evidently irked by his shouting; he keeps calling out all the more.
Summoned by Jesus, Bartimaeus throws aside his cloak to approach him. His security blanket, his life, the cloak is where he receives alms thrown by passers-by. This is now hardly of consequence to the more important matter of being able to present himself to Jesus. How different from the rich man we saw two Sundays back, who was also searching for a more fulfilling life, but could not leave behind the security of his many possessions. What is it that this blind beggar wants from Jesus? In his pitiable condition, the man knows what he wants as he pours out his heart in his plea: 'Master, I want to see!' Jesus sees the faith of the man and tells him, 'Go your way, your faith has saved you.' Liberated from the imprisoning darkness, Bartimaeus is enabled to see not only the world around but Jesus Himself. Now he knows not only that he wants to see, but that he wants to be with Jesus and to go, not just his own way, but Jesus' way-on to Jerusalem.
Alalaong baga, to see is to be freed from the blindness of heart and to receive the light of truth. We need to be aware of our blindness and, when we do, we turn with our whole soul to Jesus undeterred by anybody or anything: 'Master, I want to see!' Jesus asks us what we truly want in life and what we think He can do for us. Too many are still sitting by the wayside, sightless and futureless. Jerusalem is waiting, the new life with Jesus the Risen One. To really see is to follow Jesus resolutely down the road, living according to His way: (in the words of last Sunday's Gospel) drinking the cup He drinks and being baptized with the baptism he is baptized with, and ready to offer oneself and become like Him the servant of all.
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