Jericho was 15 miles away from Jerusalem. Jesus was taking the road to Jerusalem. Jericho was along the way. He would pass Jericho to celebrate the Passover, as was the custom for those who lived within 15 miles from Jerusalem. Those who can’t go to Jerusalem would line up the streets of Jericho to wish the pilgrims well on their journey. In ancient times, when people heard that a famous prophet, rabbi or teacher was journeying, they would join him as he discoursed while walking. And so the crowd was ‘sizable’ (NAB) by the time He passed near the northern gate where Bartimaeus sat and begged.
The story of Bartimaeus teaches us lessons to succeed. First, Bartimaeus knew what he wanted. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, he answered instantly, “I want to see.” There are many times when we are not clear with our goals or what we want. Our contemporary culture constitutes a myriad of things that vie for our attention, distracting us from seeing what is in our hearts. There are various choices out there, each promising a bright and happy future. There are many things that attracts us and we would like to have all of them. The world today supports a ‘play-it-by-ear’ way of dealing with life that we end up not knowing what is really for us, or our one and only desire is covered by our many other wants. Our goals should be clarified so that when we make choices constantly everyday, the choices would be towards the fulfillment of that one and only goal in our lives.
Second, Bartimaeus ‘threw his cloak’ when he heard people telling him that Jesus wanted to talk to him. Throwing one’s cloak is a symbolic act: throwing away the old life and facing another anew. When goals are set, choices are to be made. Often our dreams demand that we let go to the old ways in order to start anew. We have to free ourselves from our fears and our comfort zones. We have to let go of our past that prevents us from fully putting our hearts totally and generously on our new jobs. We have to let go of people whom we have held on to. We may have to let go of some precious things for us to fulfill our dreams.
Finally, Bartimaeus shouted on top of voice in order for Jesus to notice him — despite the ‘sizable’ crowd that discouraged and was even annoyed by him. It is this courage and persistence that enabled Bartimaeus to get the attention of Jesus. It is his refusal to be determined by what the sizable crowd are saying that he finally got what he wanted. For many of us, this is what is lacking. Often we give up a few minutes before we could have succeeded. It may be some pang of self-doubt, an overwhelming fear, or the operation of our low self-esteem. When we succumbed to these fears before even trying, we have lost before we played the game.
Let us asked the Lord to give us the elements that enable Bartmaeus to be healed.