COMMENT: Blind mercy
Just out of Jericho, Bartimaeus sits by the road. Hearing Jesus and the crowd he cries, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. ”Many in the crowd tell him to shut up, but he raises his voice and Jesus, standing still, says: “Call him here.” Changing their tone, the voices in the crowd tell Bartimaeus to “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”
Throwing off his cloak he springs up, comes to Jesus and is asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”“ My teacher [Rabbouni],” he says, “let me see again.” Jesus tells him his faith has made him well and immediately regaining his sight, Bartimaeus immediately follows Jesus.
Many dispute whether the healing of Bartimaeus was literal or metaphor, and in the process we argue ourselves out of calling for mercy to anyone who might respond: Jesus, Baritmaeus, our neighbours, the folk down the street, the people of Africa, the child at the food bank, the mother on the streets, the stockbroker, the mill worker, the ill, the healthy, the foolish, the wealthy, Buddha, Mohammed, the guru, the peacemakers, the lifebringers. We are so sure that mercy does not exist that we will not call out, let alone leap up and cast aside our every possession to embrace it.
Many of us are on a lonely journey. We control our own fate and are responsible for our personal responses to the vagaries of life. If we are blind we must learn brail, if we cannot find light we must accept darkness. If we cry out for mercy we must obey the voices that tell us we do not deserve it, we must look within ourselves for the roots of our own sorrow. There is nothing, no one, no spirit, no presence, that can effect within us a mercy-filled and transcendent state of being. Every user must pay for every use.
No one helps; there is no one we can help.
Someday, however, a crowd will wend its way through the walls of the citadel. Someday the joy and the laughter and the love will infiltrate the carefully built foundations of a well-designed fortress that is solitary in its confinement. Someday the drums will pound, the flutes will sound, the music will play and the walls will come a tumblin’ down.
The Spirit that comes knocking on that day might be called the Spirit of Christ, or it might not. It might be called the Holy Spirit of our Trinitarian God, or it might not. It might be called the living breath of wisdom blowing across the waters of a new creation. Or it might not. It might be called the newborn voice of a child, or the whispered chant of an elder, or it might not. It might be a sigh from the inner sanctum, crying out for a merciful light by which to find transcendence, or it might not.
God knows what will draw the mercy from each of us. But drawn it will be. It will be.
Keith Simmonds is a diaconal minister in the Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge serving Beaver Valley, Rossland, Salmo and Trail.