Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel teaches that our prayer is shaped by how we have received the word of God in our lives. To the onlookers he is just another beggar buttering up a Rabbi for a handout, or someone who should just accept the cards life has dealt him, but the language of his plea and his persistence show that he sees an opportunity passing by that may never return: he believes that Jesus is the Messiah, which is why he calls him “Son of David,” a messianic title. He acknowledges the need for a savior He asks for Jesus to have pity on him: John the Baptist preached that repentance was required, conversion, and Jesus from the beginning of his mission on earth preached the same message of repentance. Bartimaeus was showing that he got the message.
When we pray our understanding of the Gospel shapes how we pray, along with all the Christian prayers formulated by those who have gone before us and from the Lord himself, as is the case with the Lord’s Prayer. Those words go from being the repetition of formulae handed down to us to becoming our words, either taking those words and making them our own or using them to inspire our own conversations with God. They also help us see what we should pray for: the things we and others need, not necessarily the things we want, such as our daily bread, health, and forgiveness, as opposed to winning big in the lottery, being popular, not having any crosses in our life, etc.
Bartimaeus’ prayer led to a heart to heart encounter with Our Lord, and he received what he wanted, but knew he didn’t deserve: to be able to see. His prayer goes from formulae to a simple and heartfelt conversation with Our Lord. Let’s ask Our Lord for the grace for us to see today how to speak with him heart to heart about what we really need, and with the same humble outlook as Bartimaeus.
Readings: Sirach 42:15–25; Psalm 33:2–9; Mark 10:46–52.