Inspiration often comes in the most curious fashion. The word silence instantly brings to my mind the idea of the Spiritual Practice of Silence and Solitude, an often-life-giving practice. I was quite certain that would be the direction in which I would follow in this blog, but enter a recent experience….
I was in a place where a group of us were practicing Lectio Divina (simply means sacred reading in a meditative way) with the passage from Mark 10 about the blind man, Bartimaeus. The narrative describes Jesus and his disciples passing through Jericho. Soon they came upon a blind man sitting at the side of the road. When the blind man, Bartimaeus, learned that it was Jesus who would be passing by him, he called out for Jesus to have mercy on him. Immediately, the people around him began to try to silence him.
Have you ever wondered, why?
I mean, why did the people feel it was necessary for Bartimaeus to be silenced?
Did the crowd think he was not worthy to be heard by Jesus? Were they trying to get Jesus’ attention and didn’t want to compete with Bartimaeus? Was he considered less of a person because of his disability? Was it because he recognized and named Jesus for who Jesus was?
Bartimaeus was a blind man unable to earn a living other than begging. He was also a truth-teller, naming Jesus, the Son of David, a.k.a., the Messiah. He was loud and demanded Jesus’ attention.
For those of us brought up to not make a scene in public, being silenced is understandable.
For those of us who have been treated as unworthy for whatever reason, being silenced is believable.
For those of us who see the truth and are outspoken, being silenced is a familiar reaction.
Are these the reasons for Bartimaeus needing to be silenced?
The funny thing is none of this stopped Bartimaeus. He wasn’t having any of the status quo. He yelled out even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
And Jesus, who knew all the things about Bartimaeus, only recognized and acknowledged his faith. Subsequently, he called Bartimaeus over to him. Instead of silencing him, Jesus wanted to hear what Bartimaeus had to say.
“What do you want from me, Bartimaeus?”
Bartimaeus knew exactly what he wanted, “I want to see.”
There is quite a bit to learn from this story: Baritmaeus’ great faith, he knew who Jesus was. He was convinced that Jesus was the only one who could heal him. And significantly, he had this wonderful gift of knowing what he desired above all else.
I don’t know about you, but for me, it is the simple determination and perseverance of Bartimaeus which encourages me. His blindness wasn’t able to silence him. His social position didn’t silence him. The naysayers around him could not silence him. He wanted to be healed, and he knew the source of healing.
And Jesus did heal him.
There is something to be said about this kind of tenacity in the face of inadequacies, people’s opinions, and facing the fear of telling the truth. Talk about putting faith in action.
And Jesus honors this kind of faith.
Jesus gave Bartimaeus the opportunity to express himself, to state his needs, and to show his faith to everyone around him. Jesus didn’t silence Bartimaeus, and he doesn’t silence us when we come to him in faith. Despite all the things that seem like obstacles in our lives, those things the outside world looks at and, consequently, makes judgments about us: Jesus only looks at our hearts and sees who we really are.
And Jesus listens.