As a result of not being able to see, Bartimaeus was reduced to the sidelines of society from where he was forced to beg in order to survive. He would have been dependent on whatever friends he might have had to help him find a good spot where passersby might respond to his cries for help. A person who could not see in those days would have been considered an outcast from society. He’d be among the defiled. From that darkness, he reached out and he cried out to survive.
Interesting that he knew that Jesus was passing by. He could sense the presence of Jesus. Interesting that then he cried out loudly. He was rebuked by those who had the power of sight. But still he persisted and cried out even louder from his darkness.
It is impossible to see in the darkness. At best, it is very difficult to be able to see in the darkness. Vision is impaired in the darkness.
In our day, more and more, it seems that we have powers of darkness that try to make it impossible for us to see. Covert powers at work in the shadows of our society make it difficult to see. Fake news is a shroud of intentional confusion that casts a shadow of darkness. Powers who seek to divide and pit one group against another bring darkness and make it ever more difficult to see.
Marginalizing the poor and the working-poor divides and extends darkness. Putting up walls -- whether physical or legislative -- to keep out those seeking a better life is a work of darkness. The past practices of a government to keep down its native people is a work of darkness even worse in a cloak of secrecy. Tearing up efforts to confront climate contrary to the evidence is a work of darkness.
For that, ask any young person who cries out about the climate -- not just for themselves but for their children yet unborn. Ask any marginalized person who cries out from the fringes of society. Ask any First Nations’ person. Ask any person fleeing oppression.
O that they each have the persistence of Bartimaeus.
We have our own kind of afflictions that make it difficult for us to see through the darkness to persist in digging into what is really going on. Not being sure anymore what is true and what is not true. Being worried about our own well-being in the back of our own minds (subliminally) -- as in if it happens to them, it can happen to us. A kind of pervasive fear. Darkness flows from the shadows of fear.
O that we may have the persistence of Bartimaeus.
It’s not only persistence though: it is an ability to keep a vision in the darkness, to have faith in spite of any darkness. To recognize that Jesus is passing by.