Hurdles race in athletics is one of the exciting contests in the track and field events.
In hurdling, a runner has to race over a series of obstacles called hurdles, which are set at a fixed distance apart.
Life, sometimes, represents a hurdles race.
>> Many obstacles are placed in this track of life.
One needs to jump over these barriers in order to find meaning and success in life.
The Gospel of the Day is a story of one such person, who jumped over the hurdles in his life and found victory – Bartimaeus!
The story of the Blind Beggar, healed by Jesus is an incident recorded in all the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke).
If we look at this incident in each of their accounts, we find that it is as if, this story has been filmed from three different cameras.
>> It could be like the same news story, but carried out on channel A, channel B and channel C.
The camera of each channel has picked up the story at a different angle.
The meaning and message of the life of Jesus is inexhaustible and the Holy Spirit allows the Gospel writers to present it from different perspectives and angles.
>> St Luke’s camera shows us that Jesus is entering Jericho when the blind beggar begins to call out (Lk 18: 35)
>> But St Mark’s camera shows us that the healing took place, not as Jesus was entering Jericho, but as Jesus was leaving the place (Mk 10:46)
>> Mark names him as Bartimaeus.
>> Luke doesn’t name him.
How could we reconcile this geographical fact of “apparent” difference?
>> Was Jesus coming out of or going into Jericho?
There could be one way of understanding this…
Jericho was one of the oldest cities in the world and it has been continuously occupied for thousands of years.
During the time of Christ, however, King Herod ordered a new business and administration centre to be set up, a few miles away from the original city.
>> This would be called as the New Jericho.
Eventually, the old and the new Jericho would merge.
An ideal spot for begging was to be on the road between the old and new city, where there would be a frequent passage of travelers especially the business people.
So, in that sense, Jesus was both leaving Jericho and going to Jericho: He was leaving the old site and going to the new one.
Then comes along St Matthew’s camera which shows us that there were two blind beggars that were healed (Mt 20:30), whereas the camera of St Mark and St Luke had only done a close shot of the one.
How could we reconcile this numerical fact of “apparent” difference?
There could be one way of understanding this…
For Mark and Luke, Bartimaeus was the main character in the story and was therefore the sole focus.
>> Perhaps Bartimaeus was known to them but the other man was a stranger to them.
The fact that only one man is recorded as speaking doesn?t mean there was only one man.
>> It simply means Mark & Luke identified only one man, Bartimaeus speaking.
Matthew refers to both of them calling out to Jesus, clearly indicating there were two men.
In any case, to focus on these minor details to the exclusion of all else would be to miss the point of the story.
The star recipient in the story – the Blind Beggar, Bartimaeus – is the one who overcomes many hurdles and obstacles in his life to obtain the glorious healing from the Lord.
What were some of these hurdles?
1. He had to overcome the hurdle of “being blamed”
Bartimaeus lived at a time when sicknesses were traced to a life of sinfulness.
This blind man lived constantly under the shadow of this hurdle of “being blamed”.
>> He was blamed that he was blind because he or his ancestors had sinned greatly and was being “punished”.
>> He was blamed that it was he alone responsible for his pitiable state of being blind and having been reduced to being a beggar.
But Bartimaeus overcomes this “hurdle of being blamed” and finds the light of Jesus.
>> Am I in need of overcoming this guilt and shame of “being blamed”?
2. He had to overcome the hurdle of “being depressed and hopeless?
It is a pitiful fact to being a beggar, lying pathetically, sitting in his filthy, dirty rags on the side of the road. The fact of his being blind made things even more worse. Life was highly cruel on him and the darkness of hopelessness clouded him.
But Bartimaeus overcomes this “hurdle of being depressed and hopeless” and encounters the glow of Jesus.
>> Am I in need of overcoming this pain and sadness of being depressed and hopeless”?
3. He had to overcome the hurdle of “discouragement and being put-down”
The crowd had become very hostile to blind Bartimaeus wanting to meet Jesus and rebuked and shouted at him to be silent. He had felt a ray of hope in Jesus, but the crowd considered him as a botheration and sought to suppress him.
But Bartimaeus overcomes this hurdle of “discouragement and being put-down” and experiences the illumination of Jesus.
>> Am I in need of overcoming the crushing and burdensome factors of “discouragement and being put-down”?
The Blind Bartimaeus shows us the way today, to overcoming hurdles…
…with an eager longing, a resolute determination and commendable humility.
Is my life blind, surrounded by the darkness of many hurdles? The Lord of Light is passing by…
> Let’s raise our voices.
>> Let’s lift up our hearts.
>> Let’s jump over the hurdles!
Yes, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!