Wednesday in the Twenty-Second Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43

Jesus, Son of David, Have Mercy on Me

As Jesus approaches Jerusalem to fulfill the will of his beloved Father, the plan of redemption established according to the inscrutable will of the Triune God before the world was, we have here an account showing that even with the weight of the world on his shoulders Jesus had time for poor sinners in distress.  Each of the three gospels relates the account from different perspectives, and so each adds details that the others do not tell, but that need not concern us.  Three individuals who witness an automobile accident from different places will provide similar stories but with different details; they are not expected to provide the exact same account of the event, given their own limited perspectives.  But the three witnesses together give us a more complete and accurate account of the event, as we see here.

The account gives us the picture of Jesus walking along as a crowd of people throng him on all sides, which was not unusual.  Even a blind man cannot help but notice the commotion and inquires what is happening.  He is told that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.  By now, Jesus has been ministering to the people and preaching the Kingdom of God for about three years; everyone has heard of him.  The blind man (Mark calls him “Bartimaeus”) begins to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  The crowd rebukes him and hushes him, but he will have none of it; let them spend their lives in the dark and “see” how they like it.  He cries out all the more with the same words – and his words are important. “Son of David” was an unmistakable Messianic title.  Bartimaeus is declaring his faith in Jesus as the Christ, God’s chosen One, sent by the Father to redeem Israel.  Jesus recognizes the man’s faith and calls him.  They tell him to “take heart…He is calling for you.”  Upon leading the man to Jesus, he asks him what he desires.  The answer is obvious but Jesus usually required people to ask (pray) for his help.  “Let me recover my sight,” the blind man says.  And upon Jesus’ words, he does.

I choose to capitalize on the blind man’s words, “Have mercy on me.”  Mercy is generally understood as not rendering to someone their just deserts for wrongful deeds committed; here, it is more closely related to pity.  And is this not what we are: poor pitiful creatures who are the way we are due to our sin and the sins of others, broken-hearted, and living in a broken world.  Those who can see, see their wretchedness.  They cry out to God for mercy, because they know that is truly what they need more than anything else.  “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” is a fitting prayer for all of us.

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