By Monika Manser
The most frequent way of praying that Saint Ignatius uses is that of imagining ourselves in a Gospel scene. We imagine ourselves as a character in the story. We take part in the story, seeing Jesus and all the other people, being aware of what’s going on and how we are feeling. The purpose of praying with the imagination is to allow Christ in the Scripture to speak to us. To bring the Gospel stories to life for us. We are not trying to recreate history. It doesn’t matter if your imagination takes the story off in a different direction to the Scripture. It doesn’t matter if the story takes place in 1st century Palestine or where we live now in the 21st century. What is important is what God wants to say to us through this passage.
Sit and relax by focussing on your breathing for a few minutes so that you can contemplate the Gospel using your imagination.
Acknowledge you are in the presence of God by saying the following prayer:
Direct O Lord and guide and influence all that is happening in my mind and heart during this time of prayer: all my moods and feelings, my memories and imaginings; my hopes and desires; may all be directed and influenced to your greater glory, praise and service and to my growth in your Spirit.
Let the Spirit enter our hearts and enlighten our minds so that we may have the courage to go outside of our comfort zone and trust the voice of Jesus despite our blindness.
As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me’. And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me’. Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here’. So they called the blind man. ‘Courage,’ they said ‘get up; he is calling you.’ So throwing off his so cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbuni,’ the blind man said to him ‘Master, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you’. And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.
We continue reading from the Gospel of St Mark on this the 30th Sunday of Ordinary time. This passage is the end of chapter 10 which began with the healing of an anonymous blind man. Jesus then goes on to predict his passion, death and resurrection three times to his disbelieving disciples despite them recognising that he is indeed the Messiah. In this passage, we notice that the crowd has become larger. Let us enter the scene as Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, calls out to Jesus.
• Who are you in the scene? Are you one of the disciples? One of the crowd? Bartimaeus? Yourself? Someone not mentioned in the passage?
• Notice what is going on around you. What is the mood like – of the disciples, of the crowd, of Bartimaeus? What do you see and hear? What strikes you about the general atmosphere? What are the surroundings like? Why are you there? Can you see Jesus from where you are standing??
• If you are one of the crowd or one of the disciples, did you notice Bartimaeus sitting begging? Do you know him? Does he usually sit in this same spot? Do you ever give him alms?
• What do you do when Bartimaeus starts shouting? Are you one of those who try to silence him? Do you find him an irritation? An embarrassment? Do you fall in with the crowd with the scolding of this poor man? Or do you see him as one of the marginalised in your society also entitled to a voice? A person of courage and resourcefulness? Does Bartimaeus ever make you appreciate your gift of sight and show gratitude to God for the gifts he has bestowed on you?
• What went through your mind when you heard Bartimaeus shout ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me’? Do you realise that Jesus is the Son of David? Does it take a blind man, someone whom you would normally have ignored, to help you see the identity of Jesus as the Messiah?
• What do you think of Bartimaeus’ persistence when the crowd try to silence him? Do you think that it was his persistence in his pleading that made Jesus stop? Do you have the courage to persist in calling out to Jesus when you want to attract his attention? Or unlike Bartimaeus, are you blind to his presence in your life?
• Do you notice that Jesus asks the crowd to bring Bartimaeus to him? Are there people in your life who have brought you to Jesus? That it is through others that we are being called? Do you notice it is the same people who were scolding Bartimaeus who now bring him to Jesus? They told him, “Courage, he is calling you”. How often we too need to hear these words of encouragement.
• Do you notice that Bartimaeus threw off his cloak to go to Jesus? This was probably his only possession and his only protection. Do you have that same trust in Jesus to go before him as you are, without disordered attachments?
• What is going through your mind when you hear Jesus say to Bartimaeus “What do you want me to do for you”? Do you think it is obvious? Or do you think Jesus is not assuming to know what Bartimaeus wants?
• Do you think that Barimaeus’ answer is an obvious one? That seeing again will allow him to see the world around him in a different perspective to his mind’s eye? Do you too wish you could open you eyes and see what there is to be seen? Do you see that it is Bartimaeus’ faith that has saved him? Can you feel the joy of Bartimaeus once his sight has been restored? Do you notice that he shows his gratitude by becoming a follower of Jesus?
Speak to Jesus about what is going on in your mind and heart. Speak to him about what you would like him to do for you and what you would like to see.
Let us now share what we thought, felt etc. only if you are comfortable to do so.
Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Scripture texts: from the Jerusalem Bible 1966 by Dartington Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd