Today in the Gospel, we witness what appears to be the last public incident in Christ’s life before his final entry into Jerusalem.
This last incident outside Jerusalem also contains a first incident— a first instance.
Today as Bartimaeus the blind man calls out to Jesus, it is the first time anyone publicly addresses Jesus by the title “Son of David”.
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!
What does that choice of words mean—
“Son of David”?
It means that the blind beggar Bartimaeus believes Jesus to be more than worthy to be king.
It means Bartimaeus believes Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ:
chosen and anointed by God to be prophet, priest, king and savior.
Upon hearing the voice of Bartimaeus and recognizing the faith contained in his words, Jesus stops, calls for him and asks,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus does not ask Christ for a donation of mere loose change.
He asks for something much more precious:
“Master, let me receive my sight.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Go your way;
your faith has made you well.”
And immediately he received his sight
Bartimaeus is now no longer blind.
He now has the ability to go his way and begin an independent life for himself.
Instead, the Gospel tells us he followed Christ “on the way”.
Bartimaeus chooses to follow Jesus.
The fact that the name of Bartimaeus is in the text of the Gospel shows that Bartimaeus was well known in the Church even after Jesus ascended into heaven.
Bartimaeus was the first person in the Gospel to publicly call Jesus “Son of David”.
After receiving his sight and following Christ into Jerusalem, perhaps Bartimaeus was also the first person to gather branches and begin shouting:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest!
Perhaps he joined the other disciples at the final Passover Supper, the Last Supper of the Lord.
Perhaps, unlike the others, Bartimaeus followed Jesus on the way of the cross.
Perhaps Bartimaeus wept on the Hill of Golgotha at the sight of his Savior’s suffering and death.
Perhaps Bartimaeus had the privilege of seeing with his own eyes his Savior risen from the dead on the third day.
Perhaps Bartimaeus got to see it all as an eyewitness—
For you and me, however, there is no “perhaps”.
You and I share with Bartimaeus the faith to recognize the true identity of Christ.
However, we have the advantage over Bartimaeus in that we meet Jesus on the road into Jerusalem already knowing the outcome of the life and mission of Jesus as it unfolded and reached its climax in Jerusalem.
However, though we know the Resurrection is ahead, we must still each decide to follow Christ even through darkness and death.
Through faith, and the power of the Spirit at work in the Gospel, the Liturgy and the Sacraments, we are witnesses of Christ who is God at work for us and for our salvation.
Through faith, and the power of the Spirit at work in the Gospel, the Liturgy and the Sacraments, we see the Son of God come down from heaven, suffer, die, rise from the dead and ascend into heaven again.
The two-thousand year old suffering and death of Christ, God’s eternal love and his self-sacrifice on the cross in Jerusalem, the Body and Blood, the person of Christ who is risen now—
all these are present and real now in the Eucharist.
Of all this we are believers, eyewitnesses and beneficiaries.
In his Sacraments, in his Eucharist, Jesus says to us what he said to Bartimaeus,
“Go your way—
your faith has given you everything—
your faith has made you well.”
In a few moments, we will all stand to announce that we are believers.
To believe as Christians means we already see Jesus for who he really is: chosen and anointed by God to be prophet, priest, king and savior.
If we are going to stand and announce that faith, then we must be ready to follow the way of Jesus, the way of the cross; and we must be ready to eat and drink suffering and death as Jesus did.
Christ gave up his body for us.
Christ shed his blood for us.