Unfortunately, I don't have a real homily to post this morning. It's the pastor's weekend to give the financial report at the end of the Masses, so I'm only called upon for the brevis homilia. Looking into my files I notice that the last time old Bartimaeus came around, when I was just beginning my diaconate, I must have had the weekend off from preaching as well. God only knows if I will still be walking the earth or where I will find myself on the thirtieth Sunday per annum in 2012, but maybe then I'll finally have the chance to preach on this beautiful gospel.
St. Mark's presentation of blind Bartimaeus is full of wonderful ironies. Of course there is the classic irony of the blind person being the one who can actually see; after several episodes in which the disciples address Jesus with incomplete titles--e.g. master, teacher, rabbi--this blind beggar finally calls upon Jesus with all of his saving and royal dignity: "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
In their arrogance and presumption, James and John approached Jesus and told him, "We want you do for us whatever we ask of you." Now Jesus addresses Bartimaeus in the same way: "What do you want me to do for you?" An authentic encounter with Jesus, i.e. prayer, always becomes an encounter with the desires of the heart. If our desires are distorted we can expect, like James and John, to receive a jarring challenge in response. If our heart is in the right place we can also expect to hear the words Jesus gives back to Bartimaeus: "Go your way: your faith has made you well."
The end of the healing experience matter as well. Right away the newly sighted Bartimaeus follows Jesus "on the way." Here we see the difference between Christianity and the spirituality of the world. A worldly spirituality offers healing so that we might enjoy ourselves. The end of being healed in Christ is discipleship; we are restored in Christ so that we might follow him on his Way.