“As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard it was Jesus, he began shouting, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more … Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.'” – Mark 10:46-49
On the day Jesus left Jericho for Jerusalem, he restored a beggar’s sight. Bartimaeus was lucky to get it back that day because, as things turned out, it was the last day for miracles. After Jesus left Jericho, there were no more answers to shouted prayers. There were scrapes with authorities, a meal, a betrayal, an execution, but no more displays of gracious power. Bartimaeus got in under the wire.
His plea might’ve gone unheard. The crowd with Jesus was a traveling revival, boisterous and loud. But Bartimaeus was louder, and finally people noticed. But his neediness was raining on their parade, so they shushed him. Sternly, scripture says, officious and grim.
They were riled up. But Jesus stood still. All ears. Like a scout detecting the snap of a twig in the woods. Distinguishing one voice in all that din. Telling Bartimaeus to come.
Scripture says God can tell the cry of the poor from other cries. God hears every voice that reaches heaven, but God’s ears pick up first not the whining of the well-fed, the haughty, and the highly-placed, but the groaning of their victims. Not the pleas of the pious, the preachy, and the pure, but the ones who rain on our oblivious parades just by existing.
God doesn’t subscribe to the fairness doctrine. ‘All sides’ don’t get equal time. Many voices plead and cry, but God, from whom Jesus inherited his ears, privileges the voices no one wants to hear.
Give me Jesus’ ears, O God. Then make me all ears. Amen.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.