another biblical reflection, based on Mark 10.46-52, for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, October 25, 2015
When (Bartimaeus) heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet. (Mark 10.47-48a)
The crowd, so swiftly insensitive and with stony indifference to one in great need, particularly an insignificant blind beggar, told Bartimaeus to shut up. Throughout human history, to the cry, “Have mercy!” of all oppressed by whate’er in the host of human ills – racial intolerance, domestic and sexual violence, war and dislocation, poverty and famine – often a standard cry of the crowds of powers and principalities, whether secular or sacred, is “Be quiet!”
Jesus, here and throughout his ministry, demonstrating a faithful response to the cry of need (and I love the profound simplicity of Mark’s detail), “stood still.” Standing still in honor of another, especially one considered inconsequential by social standards, is the wondrous act, the beauteous art of divine hospitality.
I confess that I find this difficult, impossible to do when I am engaged in the business of my busyness, when I am immersed in the service of my self-interest. Standing still demands my remembrance and my renewed rehearsal of my reverence for God as holy creator, which always begets my revived respect for my fellow human beings. In this, standing still is an indispensable pre-condition for any ministry, any miracle. And, truth to tell, for me, I have discerned that “Be quiet!” is the word of God that I must hear and heed with the ears of my heart and mind, my soul and spirit that I may stand in reverent stillness in the face of another, verily, in the presence of one of my sisters or brothers.
Illustration: Jesus Heals Bartimaeus, Nicholas Poussin, 1650