Eucharist in the Time of Corona
Fr. Roger Keeler
It is intriguing to read the story of Bartimaeus, the subject of yesterday’s gospel, isn’t it? Mark’s gospel is the briefest we find in the New Testament. It is written without the flourish of Luke, the theological depth of John, or Matthew’s referencing back to the experience of Israel. No, Mark writes with a certain economy about the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John in the Jordan to the Church beginning its apostolic mission. It is a trajectory of sorts. It is direct, free of gloss, and, frankly, with little colour. But here is Bartimaeus. Mark tells us he is outside of Jericho, and he is the son of Timaeus. He is blind, and he is a beggar. He knows who Jesus is: from Nazareth, the Son of David, and he is the Master. And he knows that only Jesus can deliver him from his affliction. There is a lot of detail here!
In commenting on this story, theologian John Shea quotes the Gospel of Thomas, 3: “When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”* Mark wants us to know Bartimaeus. He wants us to know that we are Bartimaeus! You see, without the attitude – the posture – of this ancient figure from the gospel, one of knowing who he is in his compromised human limitation, the fruit of history and circumstance, having no way forward on his own, yet knowing the one and only way to deliverance, he persistently, courageously, boldly – shamelessly! – shouts out to the only one who can give him what he needs – what his soul desires.
St. Paul puts a little twist on this when in 1 Corinthians 13:12 he writes: “Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.” God knows us fully, even better than we know ourselves. To come to know that we are Bartimaeus and that we do not fully know is to take the first step in moving beyond living in the poverty that does not know that we “are children of the living Father.”