Bartimaeus: the call

This coming Sunday is the 30th Sunday in lectionary cycle B. The gospel is the story of Bartimaeus, a blind man, who cries out to Jesus for pity: Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

Neither the blind man’s social status or the crowds’ rebuke matter to Jesus. It is evident that Bartimaeus has heard about Jesus of Nazareth and that his relentless crying of “Son of David, have pity upon me” reflects a conviction, formed on the basis of what he had heard, that Jesus could restore his sight. When Jesus orders that Bartimaeus be called, some in the crowd quickly change their tune and tell him to have courage. He reacts without hesitation and “threw aside his cloak.”  This action is often passed over without much notice. If one assumes Bartimaeus is wearing the cloak, perhaps it is just cumbersome and would impede him. But if one assumes the cloak is spread out before him as a collection point for alms, then his casting aside the means of income and whatever income he had  collected (no doubt representing his riches and wealth) stands in sharp contrast to the rich man who walked away from Jesus rather than let go of his wealth. The blind man also takes his place among others who have spontaneously reacted to the presence of Christ in their live: Simon and Andrew leave their nets (1:18), James and John leave their boat (1:20), Levi leaves his tax office (2:14); Bartimaeus leaves his location and wealth.

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