There is a disturbing element in this Markan story that portrays the reality of our world; that is, the intimidating tactics of the ‘normal’ trend and the dispelling voice of a dejected life. Bartimaeus, a perfect guise of so many poverty-ridden communities, cries out for help, and was forced to keep quiet.
From the outset, we already see that Bartimaeus is not part of the ‘normal’ community. He is outside the wall of Jericho. The area outside the wall is dubbed the ‘abnormal’ space. A space where the unwanted and rejected are forced to live. Hope exists outside the wall. Within the ‘normal’ space of the wall of Jericho exists the oppression that has forced people like Bartimaeus to depend on the crumbs by the roadside.
How many Bartimaeuses do we know who live off the left-overs of capitalistic highways? How much more do we know of the intimidating tactics that forcefully cemented Bartimaeus to such a despondent state? Even when Bartimaeus cried out for mercy, he was forced to be silent. Silencing of the destitute has come in many forms. The structuring of the ‘normal’ space is a silencing tactic that not only creates the ‘abnormal’ space(s) but also constrains it.
The most hopeful portion of the reading is not Bartimaeus calling out for mercy, but Jesus’ asking the imperative question, “What can I do for you?” I leave you with this question: what can I/WE do for you? In this instant I am posting this as a rhetoric question. We ask not to get an answer, but we ask as to reaffirm our duty and calling to bring life to ‘abnormal’ spaces, and challenge the structure of the ‘normal’ spaces.
The need for Bartimaeus is simple and straightforward – “Rabbi, I want to see.” That is all that is needed by those whose lives are constrained by power structures of the ‘normal’ spaces. Basic necessities to living. Seeing, hearing, eating, drinking and just living. We are reminded, in this narrative, that we are sojourners on the highways between cities, and in doing so, remember our calling to ask in affirmation of that calling, “What can I/WE do for you?
-Nikotemo Sopepa, Council for World Mission
God of life, beauty and love, we beseech you this hour to look upon us with favour. You see our need to rise above the many systems and structures that keep us from experiencing life in full. Encourage us Lord. Empower us to raise our voices and be the hope that is needed when it is needed.
Partner in Mission
Pray for Wayne and Helen Harray, CWM Partners in Mission who are administering two developmental projects in the Chin region of Myanmar, based at Tahan Theological College. Helen is the HOD of the English department and Wayne is involved in land cultivation and development.
Pray for the ‘on the job’ training of a pool of teachers, in order to upgrade competency and expand the English programme in the college. Pray also for wisdom in choosing what crops to grow, and for the rapid healing of the soil, reliable workers and a great harvest.
Helen Harray, Partner in Mission (East Asia)