God’s great love for his people is revealed when he decided to revisit those who were almost forgotten in captivity. He gave assurance of their return through his prophet Jeremiah. That prophet who was always known for announcing disaster and threats, now begins to announce good news. The good news is that the Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. He will gather them from the ends of the world. They who departed in tears will be consoled, guided and be led to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble (Jeremiah 31:7-9).
God has fulfilled this prophecy of restoration through Jesus Christ, who continuing his divine mission, approached Jericho where a blind beggar, Bartimaeus (“son of Timaeus”}, was sitting by the roadside, begging. Hearing the sound of the crowd going by, he inquired what was going on. He was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Immediately, he began to call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” Even as many people wanted to silence him, he shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have pity on me!” He refused to be silent, even at the rebuke of the people. At this, Jesus stopped and asked that he be brought over to him. He threw aside his cloak, jumped up and came to Jesus, who asked him: “What do you want me to do for you?” His answer was: “Rabboni, I want to see.” On account of his strong faith, Jesus’ reply to him was to be on his way because his faith has healed him. Immediately, he received his sight and started to follow him up the road, giving glory to God, and all the people gave praise to God (Mark 10:46-52).
This account of the healing of Bartimaeus represents humanity’s longing for salvation from oppression, physical suffering, and death, which only Jesus can fulfill. This case of the blind man of Jericho represents all the disciples, and all men and women who have not yet seen the light of Christ, as well as the unbelievers whose eyes and hearts are not yet open to the gospel of Christ.
In St. John’s gospel, after healing the man born blind, Jesus said that he came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind (John 9:39). In Augustinian epistemology or theory of knowledge, we are told that the unaided mind of man, is incapable of visualizing things around us, unless illumined by divine illumination. This doctrine holds that human beings require a special divine assistance in their ordinary cognitive activities. In the earthly ministry of Jesus, he restored to sight, many blind people of his time, and healed so many people with other ailments, including cleansing of lepers, raising the dead, casting out of demons, etc.
By his faith, Bartimaeus, the blind man recognized Jesus as Son of David, the Messiah, even when he is being rebuked by a crowd that does not see. This is the attitude expected of a disciple. His prayer of faith is a great example for each of us. His faith told him that Jesus is Son of David, the promised Messiah, the king of the Davidic lineage, who has mastery over blindness and other ailments. Hence, he believed strongly that Jesus could restore his sight.
We, too are blinded by so many things around, including the things in this world. Many times, we are in the crowd. We need to stand out of the crowd, to withdraw from material things, we need some kind of desert experience, in order to have some spiritual awareness and be alone with the Lord, in order to follow him in whom, with whom and through whom, we can have Spiritual vision, so as to follow him on the way. In this way, we can have a similar experience like the blind beggar who received his sight by encountering Jesus near Jericho. Jesus will tell us that he is the light of the world. Whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12). Jesus is not merely the one bringing light into the world, he is that very light. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the wisdom and the power of God who changes us once we follow him. He is the eternal high priest, who has chosen us to be our brothers’ and sisters’ representatives before him, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He uses us as his instruments to mediate his love to his people. May God make us worthy of him.