A blind beggar sits by the roadside as Jesus and a large crowd leave Jericho. He has been left out of the excitement but that is about to change drastically. Bartimeus begins to shout out loud when he learns that Jesus is nearby and begs him for mercy. Jesus stops and says to call him here. The blind man is told to take heart and get up because Jesus was calling him. Bartimeus’ response was to throw off his cloak, spring up and go to Jesus.
What a reaction that was! After shouting perhaps at the top of his lungs, he realized he was heard and his request for mercy was about to be answered. He throws off his cloak–and this can be overlooked as anything remarkable but I wonder if he was not cured how he would have found it again in the crowd after his encounter with Christ. He did not seem to even give it a second thought. He trustingly tosses it aside and leaps up, expectant and ready to act.
Jesus asks him one question–and it is not so simple –but the blind man knows the desires of his heart: My teacher, let me see again. He does not hesitate with his response. He has probably contemplated this moment since hearing about Jesus. My teacher implies he knew of this Son of David who he had already called out to. This allowed him to spring up and go to Jesus.
We all have desires. St. Ignatius prior to his conversion had the desire to impress the world as a knight and to have ladies swoon over him. After his reading the lives of the saints, his desire was to serve God first and to live a holy life. Clearly, too, Bartimeus had given some thought on what would happen next if his vision was restored. He does not go back for his cloak and continue on with his life. Instead, we are told that he followed Jesus on the way. His desire was to be in God’s good stead and here he was, committed to following the Son of God. As with St. Ignatius, his old life was over and his new life had begun. In the Spiritual Exercises, the retreatant asks for a grace based on the desire of one’s heart. When that grace is received it can be a powerful moment.
I think it is important to also acknowledge that God places desires in our hearts for a reason and when we become aware of desires it is important to discern whether the desires are from God or not. Ignatius’ original desires of fame and fortune were not from God and the restlessness that was instilled as he read the lives of holy men and women proved it. We must pay attention to the desires of our hearts and discern who placed them there. Then we must be ready to act on them when the time comes. The desires that God places will lead us to a more fulfilled life; the desires from the Dark One will lead us away from the will of God, sometimes in discreet ways. The blind beggar is a good example for us. When we take time to sit by the roadside and listen to our desires, we too, can throw off what burdens us, spring up and run to Jesus, knowing full well what we want because God has led us to that moment.
How do you approach Jesus when it comes to the desires of your heart?
What do you do when the desires are granted?
Sitting at the roadside
has given me plenty of time
to know what you want from me
May my heart be ready to
throw off that which burdens me
and may I long to run to you, Jesus,
so that my life will be forever changed.