We live in a time of profound impasse.
By impasse, I mean that we do not see a way out of the personal, national, and global crises that are wreaking death and destruction upon the most vulnerable among us and the planet. We may easily succumb to feelings of helplessness, loss, confusion, and guilt in the midst of these seemingly insurmountable crises.
I find hope in Mark’s story of the blind beggar Bartimaeus. I relate to Bartimaeus because I too want to scream out for Jesus’ healing in a brutal world. Yet the desire to call for help is not easy. Not unlike the crowd that tells Bartimaeus to be quiet, so our society attempts to silence people who are seeking healing for the wounds they suffer through war, gun violence, drug addiction, poverty, sexism, and racism.
Moving beyond impasse is painful because it demands openness in the midst of our vulnerability. Bartimaeus lays out his garment to receive offerings—he is wholly open to transformation in his vulnerability. By laying out his garment Bartimaeus lets go of the old way of being and embraces the Way of Jesus. In the context of our world, I believe, if we are to open ourselves to God’s healing and transformation, individually and collectively we too need to be freed from old ways that are destroying all forms of life.
However, if we are going to be healed of our blindness, we need to be open to each other in our vulnerability, and to be totally challenged by the earth, the poor, refugees, by the oppressive situation women face in a patriarchal society and church, and by all those who are tortured, murdered, and imprisoned in the name of “national security.” May we, like Bartimaeus, remove our old garments and turn to one another to open ourselves to be drawn into the healing transformation God intends for the whole of creation.
Alex Mikulich is a Catholic social ethicist and racial equity consultant. He is co-author of The Scandal of White Complicity in U.S. Hyper-Incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance (Palgrave 2013 and 2015). He co-edited and contributed to Interrupting White Privilege: Catholic Theologians Break the Silence (Orbis 2007) which won the Theological Book of the Year from the College Theology Society.