As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,sat by the roadside begging.
Since Pentecost, I have not written much. I have thought about writing, and I have read the daily readings, but I have not been able to put anything to paper. The season that ended with Pentecost, Lent and Easter, was a long one and I thought it ended abruptly. Did I miss the Pentecost octave that had been eliminated? I think so, I think I needed more of a transition back into ordinary time. The readings also had not provided me with that transition, that is until today. In today’s reading Jesus leaves Jericho, and I leave the Easter season. In the gospel Jesus encounters s blind beggar, and I view that blind beggar in the light of Easter.
Had this reading come a month later, I would have placed my focus on Jesus actions and what in this encounter He was trying to teach both his disciples and myself. I would have scrutinized Jesus interaction with His disciples on the scene, and His interactions with the beggar. I would have studied Jesus words and gestures, I would have looked for the disciples mistakes. I would try to find the lesson. I also would have ignored the blind beggar. I would have ignored him for what he is as I searched for what he represents. Today though I look at that blind beggar in the light of Pentecost, in the light of an Easter Christ. I can see that person for what they are, first a person. That beggar is clothed in the same body as Christ. The beggar is not first define by blindness, but by humanity. Their begging does little more than describe their struggles and hardships. Being blind, and being a beggar does not make them less than human. It gives no one the right to rob them of their dignity. That is exactly what Jesus’s disciples were doing when they told that beggar to be quiet. They used their power to push another person down. As those disciples rebuked the beggar, Jesus rebuked them.
The most meaningful part of this gospel account is that this scene is reenacted constantly around the world today. One does not have to search long to find someone begging on the streets. Poverty and human suffering are common encounters even today. The question though is what do I see when I encounter them, do I view them as less than human? When they beg do I rob them of the little dignity they have left? Do I act as crudely as those early disciples, or do I listen to that Holy Spirit He sent me? Am I obedient to that Spirit of Pentecost?