Jeremiah 31: 7:9
Today’s readings highlight the fact that God answers prayers and that he is always aware of our needs.. Whether it’s gathering the lame, blind and suffering people of Israel and bringing them home or Jesus’ curing the blind Bartimaeus, we once again meet our loving and caring God. And along with the psalmist, we can all sing out: "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." We know that when one of us suffers, in some way, we all suffer, and when God heals one of us, we all share in the healing and hopefully, then, we are all filled with joy!
But it often takes us awhile to get there. The natural feeling on the way is often a sense of hopelessness. It’s easy to just see the suffering and give up on God. We may well ask, why does anyone we have to go through all the suffering. It’s pretty easy to feel compassion for the Israelites described in the first reading – the blind, the lame and all those who are suffering and to understand how they must have been tempted to give up on God. And in our own lives, we are tempted to ask, well If God is going to transform our pain into joy anyway, why not now?
That is where Bartimaeus teaches us an important lesson. Although we don’t know too much about Bartimaeus, we can assume that he was blind for some time. Maybe he was tempted to say, as he dealt with his blindness, if there is a God, how could he let this happen? Or to just accept his lot and go his way. But no, not Bartimaeus, he knew that there was hope in Jesus, and he was willing to speak out even when shunned by the crowd. He was willing against all odds, to ask Jesus for help. And Jesus answered.
As we begin this year of Faith, may our prayer be that we never shun those who are suffering and that we always have faith in God’s love for us as we call out to Him in prayer.
Mary Lou Butler is a long-time friend and partner in ministry to the Passionists in California.