A Cry for Mercy
Today’s gospel passage offers us the opportunity to reflect on mercy: the mercy we seek and the mercy that God gives us.
A long time ago, I read a commentary on this part of the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark. I believe it was written by Saint John Chrysostom. In that commentary, the author explained that the blind man who was lying by the road was the image of human nature, with all of its miseries, in need of help in order to be able to follow Jesus. At that time, I thought that to be an exaggeration, that we are not that bad. Lately, however, looking at the wars, genocide, persecution, etc., that have happened in our times, I realize that we are that way; without the help of God, we risk becoming an image that is difficult for us ourselves to recognize.
The story of the blind man teaches us that in order to change we need to recognize our situation and then ask for help. Bartimeus shows us how we should ask for mercy and what to ask for: ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’
The gospel tells us that Bartimeus cried out to Jesus for mercy, not once, but twice. Perseverance is the way we show how much we care for the things we seek. In crying out, he recognized both his need and the power of God to grant that need. Because of his persistent insistence, he cannot be stopped by anyone.
How many times do we stop asking because we are not heard, because people tell us that our need is not real? Do we not need more than ever to cry out for God to have mercy on us, to change us, and to change our hearts? Our hearts need to be ruled by love and respect, not by violence and indifference. This can be done in a spirit of faith, a faith convinced that God can help, that without God our lives are incomplete.
The blind man wanted to see, and Jesus gave him sight. At the same time, Bartimeus received from God the ability to see more and to recognize that sight is a gift. And for that gift to be complete, we need only to use it to follow Jesus.
At the conclusion of this gospel passage, we read: Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you.’ And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.
Asking for and receiving mercy is not enough.
We need to follow the Lord, and so become the very source of mercy.