The blind man of Jericho

Chapter 10 deals with the hardness of the Pharisees' hearts and how to remove this hardness, inviting all who intend to follow Jesus to become like children, and proposing the example of the Blind Man of Jericho.

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Gospel - Mark [10: 46-52]

And they came to Jericho. As he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Timaeus's son Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, sat along the road. Hearing that it was Jesus Nazarene, he began to cry out and say: "Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!". Many reproached him for keeping quiet, but he cried out even louder: "Son of David, have mercy on me!". Jesus stopped and said: "Call him!". And they called the blind man, saying: "Come on! Get up, he is calling you!". He threw off his cloak, jumped up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man replied, "Rabbi, may I see again!" And Jesus said to him: "Go, your faith has saved you." And immediately he saw again and followed him along the road.

Exegesis - Mark [10,46-52]

Chapter 10 deals with the hardness of the heart of the Pharisees and how to remove this hardness, inviting all who intend to follow Jesus to become like children, and proposing - as a "natural" consequence - the example of the "blind man of Jericho". Bartimaeus does not see, however he has a deep desire within himself, which is to have sight again. The evangelist Mark tells us that he, hearing the approach of Jesus of Nazareth, began to cry out: "Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me".

For the Pharisees this cry was a contempt, convinced as they were that nothing good could come from that Nazarene; instead, for the blind man, Jesus is the Son of David, just as the prophecies had anticipated: Jesus is the Messiah. Bartimaeus shouts this conviction and expresses a good knowledge of Scripture. In fact, God had made a promise to David, saying to him, "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will exalt your offspring to the throne after you, the son who has come out of your womb, and I will establish his kingdom".
(2 Sam 7,12).

That blind man therefore knows that the Messiah must come from the one who descends from David, therefore this testimony of his ("Son of David, Jesus have mercy on me") is a prophetic affirmation. Bartimaeus at that moment speaks by inspiration and recognizes the Messiah in Jesus, even without seeing him with the physical eyes of the body; and like Jesus such has the power that comes to him from God, therefore Bartimaeus without delay begs: "have mercy on me [...] that I see again!". At that point many scolded him to silence him; the Pharisees, on hearing him proclaim the Messiah with his cry for help, considered him a possessed. The blind man's reaction in the face of such incredulity is even more important: "but he cried out louder". Certainly the Pharisees must have thought: how does he say that Jesus is the Messiah? Where does this knowledge come from, this certainty? How does she know him since he doesn't even see us? And he instead repeats: "Son of David, have mercy on me".

Faced with so much insistence, Jesus stops and says: "Call him!". Mark could simply narrate that Jesus stopped and approached, because he was blind. Instead he reports in minute detail that Jesus said "Call him" and the blind man, following Jesus' invitation, threw off his cloak and walked without delay towards him. But who is it that accompanied him to Jesus? How did he see it? That Spirit of God, who made him recognize Jesus without the use of sight, guides him to him without needing to see the path to take. The Spirit is truly the light that guides us to recognize Jesus!

Now that the blind man arrives in front of Jesus, Jesus says to him: "What do you want me to do for you?". And the blind man replies: "Rabbi [or Master], may I see again!". And Jesus' answer can only be: "your faith has saved you". The blind man, calling him Master, recognizes Jesus as the guide, the Good Shepherd who knows his flock and is the only one able to bring the sheep back to the Father's fold; it is the attitude of the child who relies on his guidance and trusts his advice and teachings. This is Mark's way of telling us what the attitude of those who believe must be: Bartimaeus sees Jesus as the guide and believes that only He has the power to make him gain sight; everything is in that cry: "Have mercy on me!", as a result of which Jesus says: "Go, your faith has saved you!". What faith did Jesus see in this man?

It's the message that Mark wants to leave to the Christian community, because it is precisely this faith that allows Jesus to act in our lives. The faith of the blind man is to recognize in Jesus the Messiah, in the unshakable certainty that He can act through the power of God to make him regain his sight; although many try to silence him, the blind beggar had no doubts, nor fears: that is the Son of God who can do everything; and that cry pours forth from the certainty of his heart! Faith is summed up in this unique and extraordinary act of entrustment: Jesus is the One to whom you can turn, because he has the power of God by his. For this reason we can say that Bartimaeus saw us very well, Before I get my sight back!

Who then are the real blind? They are the ones mentioned in this Chapter 10: the Pharisees, the scribes, those who think they are seeing and instead are blind, because they don't know how to recognize Jesus. Mark proposes this story to remind us that blind is he who does not know how to recognize Jesus, and this episode of the Blind Man of Jericho confirms the message left by Jesus himself, which invites us to seek first of all the Kingdom of God, so that the rest will be given in surplus: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you".
(Mt 7,7).

However, to get what He Himself promised, faith is indispensable; a faith, as described in that episode, without restrictions or conditioning: even when they force him to shut up, the blind man reacts by shouting even louder, because he listens to that inner strength that pushes him to do so; he knows it must be so, that Jesus is the Messiah, his savior, his guide, his healer, and he cannot do otherwise. These passages are at odds with the way of thinking and acting of the Pharisees and the high priests: for Bartimaeus blindness is only physical, in them blindness is the lack of faith. Mark the evangelist therefore launches the appeal to have a sincere and immeasurable faith in Jesus, which therefore becomes an indispensable prerogative for every Christian.