We meet Bartimaeus today. He is the blind beggar who sits on the side of road from Jericho to Jerusalem.
We live in a world where folks want to be spiritual but do not want to be religious. We want to be connected to their higher power but not connected to a community of believers. We want to feel the presence of God but we want it on our terms in isolation from others. We all want to get to heaven but we do not want anyone to tell us how to get there. We want truth as long as it does not interfere with our good opinion.
we live in a dysfunctional world.
What is the answer to such dysfunction.
I think the Beggars today has the answer for us. We are introduced to Beggar Spirituality.
First of all, the beggar begs. Self -assertion is out. He realizes there is nothing he can do to solve his problems on his own. He can not go alone. Self-sufficiency has failed him. He is helpless, miserably helpless.
This seems to be the only starting place with God. Not only is it the starting place it is the place we must restart at over and over again. This is why at the mass we begin every celebration as a community of believers with the words of the beggar pressed upon our lips: Lord, Have Mercy; Christ, Have Mercy; Lord, Have Mercy. This is the only way we can come to experience joy, peace and God's healing presence in our life.
We never get past this point. We are always dependent on God. The introduction of the mass invites us to recognize what is it that we need most of all. Of all of ur wants in life, what is our truest need.
Lord, Have Mercy is where we begin and end in our relationship with God.
Secondly. Notice it isn't Jesus that brings the blind beggar to himself but rather he commission his disciples to do it. He tells them, "Call Him." And they call him. The community of believers are the ones who bring the blind beggar into an intimate embrace with Jesus. The community of believers is God's way of reaching into the lives of others and making himself known to them. We are his hands and feet. This is import because this is what will happen to the beggar; he becomes part of that community of believers.
At the end we are told he receives his sight and he follows Jesus on the way. The beggar becomes a confident disciple. He is empowered by the encounter and wants others to come to experience the same thing. He follows him externally, which means his life now looks different from the outside.
Does our life like different from the outside?
Also he follows interiorly. He now abides with Jesus and he is at Jesus's disposal. This is true litmus test of discipleship: to be with Jesus and to be at his disposal.
Here, in this spiritual space, the most important part of human existence is reveal: to be with him and to be at his disposal.
We can learn a lot from the beggar.