One of the most humbling and deeply spiritual experiences happens when I pray for and with someone who is critically ill. This is what we can imagine as a moment of extreme need.
It is probably what Bartimaeus felt when he learned that Christ, the popular rabbi well-known for his healing miracles, was coming his way. Contemplate the setting of this story, where a huge crowd accompanies Christ as he walks and preaches. The crowd was making its way to the temple for Passover. Jericho was a few miles away from Jerusalem.
In the middle of all this, you have the blind man and beggar Bartimaeus, shouting at the top of his voice, in extreme need. His loud voice must have irritated others trying to listen to Christ. They tried to silence him.
But Bartimaeus cried out all the more. In Filipino, we call this “kapit sa patalim,” but there is a difference. It is the despair of one whose only hope now is this rabbi, the Son of David.
This is what, I would like to think, caught Christ’s attention so he “stopped and said, ‘Call him.’” The details that follow are worth reflecting on, point by point.
The people who called Bartimaeus tell him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” Bartimaeus goes to Jesus who asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus replies that he wants to see, and Jesus tells him, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.”
Christ builds a community of compassion as he sends people to call Bartimaeus.
This gives him a renewed spirit, and makes him spring into action and approach Christ. Bartimaeus’ action is the fruit of the meeting of divine grace and human cooperation—Christ acknowledging Bartimaeus, and people becoming channels of grace to bring Bartimaeus to Christ.
Without this, the personal encounter between Christ and Bartimaeus would not have taken place. Without this personal encounter, the miracle would not have happened.
The encounter is deeply personal. Immediately Christ asks what Bartimaeus wants him to do, a clear moment of “ask and you shall receive.” Without missing a beat, Bartimaeus asks, “Master, I want to see.”
Bartimaeus is not only able to see, but his entire life is transformed because he believed in Christ. He does not only see but he also is, more importantly, saved.
From despair to hope to salvation, and now to gratitude. Bartimaeus does not “go his way,” but rather he “followed Christ on the way.” Out of gratitude he becomes a follower of Christ.
How often have we experienced in our journey people who need and ask for our prayers?
We pray with faith as we begin to experience the presence of grace, of Christ, that transforms into hope. With faith and hope, we are able to encounter Christ, God’s love and grace.
It is this love and grace that make the miracles in our life happen. Yes, we get what we ask for and more. For this we are grateful, and we are transformed. We are saved. We become followers of Christ.
In my younger days, mid-high school years to college, I stopped going regularly to Mass. I prayed. I did not lose my faith, but I was perhaps what we call a nonpracticing Catholic. This was the ’70s, and being in my adolescent years and growing up in a not-so-ideal family situation, it seemed like a “normal” consequence.
I remember that what brought me back was praying to ask—first for myself after experiencing a setback, and then for others. Petitionary prayer made me rediscover my faith. Long story short, this led me to the start of my “love affair” with the Mass, then to teaching and, eventually, to the priesthood.
Praying strengthens faith and inspires hope. As we go more deeply into praying, especially praying for others, it transforms into love.
Praying becomes loving; loving, because in our prayer we stand humbly before Christ and bring others to him.
Perhaps all our prayers for others, as well as for ourselves, channel this grace to those we pray for and with: “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” Thus the encounter of faith, hope and love is upon us. —CONTRIBUTED