The Blind Beggar
“Bartimaeus is blind and has no one to listen to him. Jesus hears his plea. When he goes to him, he lets him speak.
It was not hard to guess what Bartimaeus wanted – clearly, a blind person wants to see or regain his sight. But Jesus takes his time; he takes time to listen.
This is the first step in helping the journey of faith: listening. It is the apostolate of the ear: listening before speaking.”
– Pope Francis, October 28, 2018
LGBT persons and allies want to be listened to by others in our church. Can the story of The Blind Beggar, challenge LGBT persons and allies to develop the apostolate of the ear so that we can listen to others, too?
MARK 10: 46-52
46 As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus-ben-Timaeus, was sitting by the side of the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Heir of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Heir of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.”
So they called to the blind man, “Do not be afraid,” they said, “Get up; Jesus is calling you.” 50 So, throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and went to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus questioned.
The blind man replied, “Rabbuni, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” And immediately Bartimaeus received the gift of sight and began to follow Jesus along the road.
- In your quest for healing, what keeps bubbling in you right now that craves voice and a platform to be heard?
- If you feel “impaired” or suppressed/ignored due to your identity and dignity as an LGBT person or ally, how do you measure your own beauty and strength?
- In your journey as an LGBT person or ally, do you feel stuck in old ways of seeing other people? Who might God be trying to help you see, or listen to, differently?
- When he is called to Jesus, the blind beggar throws off his cloak. What possessions, attitudes or beliefs might you need to discard to achieve newness or wholeness?
- Bartimaeus’ faith heals his blindness. What keeps you blind to the truth about God or hinders you from coming to Jesus? How does faith help you see life differently? In his homily on this gospel story, Pope Francis challenges us to develop “the apostolate of the ear: listening before speaking.” What prevents you from developing this practice? Under what circumstances do you listen to others well?
- In his interaction with Bartimaeus, Jesus opts for a face-to-face encounter. Pope Francis calls Jesus’ action a “closeness” saying: “We are called to carry out God’s work in God’s own way: in closeness, by cleaving to God, in communion with one another, alongside our brothers and sisters. Closeness: that is the secret to communicating the heart of the faith. . ..” How can you embody this “closeness” with others? Where have YOU found such closeness? Who are the people in your life who seek solidarity with you?
Jesus, I invite you into this broken place within me (this wound, this memory). I give you total access to my heart and being. Come, Rabbuni, shine your light here. Ask me what I want. And tell me what you want from me. Come and meet me here, in this place. And give me new life.
Cyndi Lauper has always been an icon for the LGBT community and her song, True Colors, is legendary. With lyrics soft and yet so hauntingly striking, one can see why it resonates so powerfully with the LGBT experience.
Tucked away into the sentiment of this song, you may also find the person and the real story of the Blind Beggar, Bartimaeus, where “in a world full of people you can lose sight of it all and the darkness inside you can make you feel so small…”