Have you ever been amongst hundreds of people, but yet felt all alone? Everyone around you is preoccupied with something else, doing their own thing. And you are out of the loop. People all around, but no one pays attention to you, and pass you by without a second glance or thought. Have you ever felt such loneliness and darkness for so long that you don’t know anything else? You tried to find any glimpse of happiness, but nothing worked, and so the best you can do is to just go through the motions. All you can do is put on a happy face on the outside, but inward you are lonely, broken, and in such darkness for so long that you’re on the verge of despair. Have you ever felt that way to one degree or another?
Chances are each one of us have had some resemblance to those feelings, perhaps some people here still feel that way. I imagine, my brothers and sisters, that that is how Bartimaeus must have felt. The crowd all around him, but no-one paying attention to him. Him begging every day, but for nothing. Day in and day out, the same, no glimmer of hope. Blind for so long that all he knows is darkness. And I imagine that the darkness was not just what he saw with his eyes, but darkness became his whole outlook on life, what he thought about others, nothing but darkness and despair.
But then one day, hope came. I imagine Bartimaeus, perhaps days or weeks earlier had overheard others say how Jesus of Nazareth had healed many people and even cast out demons and forgiven sins. Bartimaeus must have thought to himself that if he could just get Jesus’ attention just one time, maybe he could dispel the darkness. Friends, are you and I that eager, that longing to encounter Jesus? Or do we let hours, days, and maybe even weeks go by without taking the opportunity to come to Jesus. Not Bartemaeus, that day, there was such a crowd and commotion because he heard that Jesus was walking by. Taking advantage of what might be his only chance to become normal and able to see like others, full of hope and faith, Bartimaeus called out from the depth of his heart, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me”. And even though people tried to quiet him down, determined, not to be deterred, he cried out all the louder- “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me”. And when everyone else heard nothing but a nuisance, Jesus heard a broken heart desiring to be loved. Jesus heard not just the words this blind man cried out, but the longing and loneliness of his heart. Indeed, isn’t it so often true, that God sees and hears not as we do, my brothers and sisters. Don’t we often pass people by without even acknowledging them, not even noticing that they need a prayer, in the least.
Jesus, hearing the longing of this man’s heart, stopped and told others to ‘call him’. For Jesus did not want to go anywhere until this lonely heart in darkness had come to him. Upon hearing that Jesus heard his cry and wanted him to come to him, I love this, Bartimaeus sprang up and went to Jesus. Bartimaeus sprang up, but my brothers and sisters, how many of us might call out, we might recognize our need and our brokenness, but we’re too ashamed to go to Jesus. We might think Jesus hears us and wants us to come to him, but we’re afraid he’ll see us that way. So we just stay there wallowing in our misery, remaining in the despair, content with just going through the motions. And for some of us, that going through the motions includes going to Confession. Where we go, but don’t really expect God to have mercy. So often we come out of fear, fear of the consequences of not going to confession. But at the same time, we come in fear, afraid of change. Afraid to leave the sin behind that has become so comfortable and familiar. We come in fear, not really expecting Jesus to want or able to transform our brokenness and make us whole. We might come, often out of routine, but come afraid of being changed. How many of us come to Mass, but come and remain unchanged, because the brokenness of our hearts are not crying out, and we’re not coming to Jesus in our darkness?
When Bartimaeus came to Jesus, Jesus asked him what he wanted him to do for him. Obviously, Jesus knew what he wanted, Jesus knew even the deepest longings of Bartimaeus’ heart, those parts and effects of his blindness that perhaps he didn’t even know about. Jesus asked the question because he wanted to see how Bartimaeus came to him. Did Bartimaeus come in fear, afraid of not coming, but not really wanting or expecting Jesus to do anything? Or did Bartimaeus come out of deep longing out of his brokenness, did he come with faith and hope, believing and wanting Jesus to heal him and for him to leave changed, a new person?
Bartimaeus responded to Jesus’s question: “Master, I want to see”. To us, that response might seem be generic and obvious for a blind man. But this translation doesn’t make it personal or full of faith. The better translation isn’t ‘Master’ as Bartimaeus says, ‘Rabbouni’- which means ‘My Teacher’. Rabbouni is also what Mary Magdalen called out in the empty tomb when she recognized it was the Risen Jesus speaking to her. Rabbouni- My teacher. Rabbouni is a greeting of faith, and not a generic faith, but a personal faith. It is as if Bartimaeus came to Jesus in his brokenness and nothingness, and said, my teacher- you can teach me what it means to see, you can teach me what it means to be fully human and alive. I come to you, in faith, for you are my teacher, I have no other teacher, no other healer or savior, but you! Friends, do our hearts really believe that no one but Jesus can dispel our darkness, no one but Jesus can forgive our sins, and only Jesus can restore the hope and life we were made for? Or do we more often than not find other things to satisfy our longing, only to come to realize, it’s only Jesus all along.
Bartimaeus cried out, Jesus, have mercy on me. Have mercy on me. The word ‘mercy’, comes from misericordiae. In which we hear the root words: misery and cordia, meaning heart. Thus, we can think of Mercy as when the Love of God meets our misery. Mercy is when God outpours his love upon our suffering and darkness. When we go to God in brokenness and need, God gives his merciful love. Look over there at the image of Divine Mercy, notice how Jesus is stepping into the darkness bringing the healing rays from his heart. But how often do we NOT cry out to our Lord for Mercy? How often do we not spring up like Bartimaeus did and come to him in our darkness? My brothers and sisters, if we don’t come to Jesus in our brokenness and ask for mercy, like Bartimaeus did, then Jesus won’t give what we do not ask for. So, let us not be afraid to go to Jesus at all times, but especially in our deepest need. But notice also what it says on the bottom of the Divine Mercy image. “Jesus, I trust in you”. I trust in you. In it we are saying: ‘You, Jesus are rabbouni, you are my teacher. I won’t put my trust in anything or anyone else but you. I won’t go trying to find my own happiness and fulfillment. No, I trust in you. No matter how or when you want to answer my longing, I will wait for you, for you alone can heal me and make me whole, you alone can dispel my darkness. No one else, so, Jesus I put my trust in you’. Can you and I honestly pray that?
Friends, may you and I have the full confidence that Jesus wants us, he calls us to come to him in our brokenness and need. And it is then, when we do, that God can be most himself, that He can outpour his gentle merciful love. As St. Augustine said, our hearts are restless, until they rest in you, O Lord. Let us come to Jesus in our brokenness so that He can give us his gentle merciful love, and our hearts can find rest in His.
To conclude, let us pray the closing prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy: “Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion- inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself”.BACK TO LIST