In Today’s Gospel a blind man called Bartimaeus boldly cries out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”. The disciples of Jesus tried to quieten the boisterous blind man. Bartimaeus was not deterred and he cried out all the louder.
The followers of Jesus, as we’ve heard over the past few weeks, thought that being important in the eyes of Jesus was a status reserved to them. A blind beggar, they believed, was not entitled to a special place near the man they thought would be the great political liberator of Israel. Then something happened that not only surprised the disciples of Jesus but it probably upset them. Maybe they said amongst themselves, “He won’t promise us a special place in his kingdom and now he wants to meet and embrace this useless blind beggar!”. So Jesus asks the beggar “What do you want?”. It is exactly the same question that he asked James and John when they requested him to do a favour for them. He asked the two disciples “What do you want?” They wanted important places in his kingdom. The blind man simply replied “Master, let me see again!”.
The blind man didn’t want to be important. It is likely that he didn’t know anything much about Jesus. All he knew about Jesus was that he had a charismatic gift for teaching and healing, especially amongst poor people, sick and disabled people and even amongst people who others judged to be “sinners”. In spite of his blindness he could actually see what the mission of Jesus was really all about. To appreciate that Jesus is really about “mercy” and “justice” is to have the gift of faith. Ironically the blind beggar had a more profound understanding about the mission of Jesus than the disciples themselves. He had greater faith, and Jesus restored his sight.
Today we too are invited to ask the Lord to “let us see!”. We are invited to appreciate that a true disciple of Jesus is a person who, like Jesus, is not committed to power and authority but, rather, to “mercy” and “justice”.