BIA Benedict XVI Institute for Africa
Father Zifac

Father Zifac
Diocese of Kumbo

Fr. Zifac: Never Give Up Looking Up

Yes. Never give up in looking up. Refuse to be discouraged. No bad condition is permanent with Jesus.

Solve your problems the Bartimaeus’ way. When Zacheus could not see Jesus bc of a height impediment he climbed a tree; when Bartimaeus could not see Jesus bc he was blind he used his voice.

Use what you have and do what you can to get to Jesus. He shrugged his cloak: mindful of the importance of a cloak (used as a cover against cold at night, and certainly used by the blind Bartimaeus, as a tool for his trade, to collect coins)… For you to achieve your greatest dream, you must be ready to let go old inclinations.

Bartimaeus must have dreamt of the day he would see that thing called a tree, another thing called a horse, and another and another…. And another. Overcome your fear with faith. Do not let anyone silence your voice when you want to talk to Jesus about your loftiest dream. Do not let anyone kill your enthusiasm. Refuse to be discouraged. Never give up in looking up.

Ask and you’ll receive, seek and you’ll find, SHOUT AND CHRIST WILL STOP (to attend to you).

Solve my problem the bartimaeus way. He was not ashamed of who he was but boldly walked up to Jesus. He was not afraid of the crowd but forced his way to Jesus.

He has no name bc he is a nobody. He was a nobody in front of everybody except Jesus. Jesus makes him a somebody in front of every body.

He was a consumer not a producer. He was a beggar not a worker. A wondering not a civil servant. Dirty and not rich.

People gave him money but his story didn’t change. He remained a beggar. When they had the opportunity to give him Jesus, the kept silenced him and prevented him.

The crowd preferred him to be a rich beggar than a poor servant. They fed his body not his soul.

He was not even qualified to have a name of his own, a family of his own. All he had was his blindness and this was strong enough to take him to Jesus.

Bartimaeus recognizes Jesus as Messiah, he knows that Jesus has the authority and power to heal. And healing is what Bartimaeus wants.

He doesn’t want a handout. He doesn’t want pity. “The rich young man wanted eternal life, James and John wanted glory, but this guy, blind and parked on the roadside, wants only mercy. He doesn’t even specify the nature of the mercy until Jesus puts the question to him plainly.” He wants to see again.

He knows he cannot solve his own problem, but he knows that begging only meets the superficial needs of his poverty. He knows he needs a “fundamental change.” And the only thing that stands between Bartimaeus and the healing power of Jesus is the crowd and the disciples.

Think about that for a moment. It’s the people crowding around Jesus as he leaves Jericho who discourage Bartimaeus from calling out to be healed.

It’s the closest followers of Jesus who tell Bartimaeus to be quiet, to leave the Master alone. The very people who want to be closest to Jesus are the same people who are keeping others away from him.

These good church people – folks like us – are just trying to keep the riffraff out. These good church people – folks just like us – only want the best for Jesus. They don’t want him to be pestered by a noisy, bothersome blind man who is creating a traffic jam there in the road. Mostly, they don’t want to think about giving up their own spot near the Master, so that someone else can get near to him.

But notice what Jesus does? He stops walking. He stands still. He looks beyond the crowd pressing around him, and makes room for one more. He says, “Call him over here.” These disciples, who see themselves as Jesus’ most loyal followers, who just asked him to let them sit next to him in glory, these faithful few who were shushing Bartimaeus moments ago – they suddenly have to act as if they care.

When Jesus says, “Call him over here,” he is reminding the disciples that following means inviting others to follow. It means welcoming others into the group. It means making room for someone who was an outsider, and inviting that person to become an insider.

When Bartimaeus learns that Jesus is calling for him, he throws off his cloak and hurries toward Jesus. And Jesus asks Bartimaeus a simple, but remarkable question:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

What makes it remarkable is the fact that Jesus just asked this same question of James and John, when they asked if they could sit at his right and left in the kingdom. And isn’t it interesting that James and John pull Jesus aside so others won’t hear them ask for places of honor? But the outcast blind beggar Bartimaeus hollers out loud for mercy, and he doesn’t care who hears his cry.

When Jesus asks him the same question he asked James and John, it has a slightly different ring to it: “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus gets right to the point: “Rabbouni, I want to see again.” Calling Jesus ‘My teacher’ (rabbouni) shows the humility of Bartimaeus. He submits himself to Jesus’ authority. His request is simple. He wants his eyesight back. That is what he gets.

I am the light of the world he who follows me does not walk in darkness (Jn 8:12).

The world (crowd) wants you to remain in darkness, but Jesus wants you to see the beauty of creation. Ask Bartimaeus and he’ll tell you. Never believe in the crowd. Your relationship with Christ is personal. The crowds rebuked him and when Jesus stopped the same people said “See, he’s calling you…”

Look at the readings again: oh how beautiful!!

Well, let’s connect the readings:

“With consolations, I will lead them back, among them the blind and the lame” (Caption for first Reading).

“When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage, it seemed like a DREAM” (Psalm).

High priest, Christ, knows our needs (R2).

This High priest fulfills the DREAM of Bartimaeus (Gospel). And Bartimaeus joins them in matching up joyfully in the way up to Jerusalem(Gospel).

Bartimaeus was blind in sight but not in faith.
The crowd was blind in faith but had their sight.
The force and beauty of faith.

Bartimaeus teaches us:

1) Persistence in prayer: persistence is the mark of maturity. Pray without ceasing. Insist and persist. Persistently insist n insistently persist. For Bartimaeus, nothing, no one and no barrier was strong enough to stop his clamor to come to face Jesus. For him, this was not just a vague, wistful, sentimental wish to see Jesus. It was a desperate desire and it is the desperate desire to get things done by Jesus.

2). His response to the call of Jesus was immediate and eager: do not let anyone kill your enthusiasm. The crowd attempted to kill his enthusiasm. The crowd prevented Zaccheus, the crowd accused Mary Magdalene, the crowd rejected Peter, the crowd shouted for Barrabas and rejected Jesus. What does the crowd do to you? Kill your desire? Slow your steps? Define you by your failures and limitations? Not Jesus.

Bartimaeus cast off his hindering cloak to run to Jesus. Many hear the call of Jesus and want to think twice or postpone. Not Bartimaeus. Seize your moment of grace and contact Jesus.

3). Bartimaeus knew what he wanted.

When God appeared to Solomon he wanted wisdom; the woman with the issue of blood wanted her pain to stop; Jairus wanted his daughter to be well. What do you really want from Jesus. Bartimaeus wanted to see. Too often, our admiration for Jesus is a vague attraction. If we are desperately definite, we get a miracle.

4) the demand of faith: although Bartimaeus addresses Jesus as “Son of David” a Messianic title that he knows not the meaning but he knows and believes that this Son of David, Jesus, can meet his need. Faith is to a Christian what oxygen is to a human being. Christians walk by faith not by sight (2Cor5:7). It is impossible as a Christian to please God without faith (Heb 11:6); you can’t afford to be a faithless Christian. This was the greatest attitude of Bartimaeus. Jesus had faith in him and called him. Faith begets faith. Christianity is a faith walk: salvation is by faith (Eph 2:3); Healing is by faith, as with the woman with the issue if blood in Mathew 9:20-22; victory in life is by faith (1Jn 5:4); life is a gift of faith, for the just shall live by faith (Rom 1;17). Do you have faith? Is my faith violent enough to bring about a storming miracle?

5). Gratitude./Thanksgiving: Bartimaeus may have been a beggar by the roadside but he knew gratitude. Having received his sight, he followed Jesus and did not selfishly go his way. He began with need, went on to gratitude and finished with loyalty-and that is the perfect summary of the stages of discipleship.

And you think your case is so special that this Special Jesus shall fail you, shall not stop to look at you, shall not answer you. Tell that problem, you have overcome with Jesus. Tell that sickness, you already won. Say to that mountain, you have come to late, declare it boldly: by faith I am born of God. He says it is finished. Is it intellectual, financial, academic, spiritual, emotional, is it same family block? Your story is re-written by faith in Jesus, whose power working in you can do infinitely more than we can ask or hope for, can grant you all your heart’s desire through Jesus Christ our Lord. Believe it. Never give up in looking up. Refuse to be discouraged for Jesus is calling for you.

May the Lord Jesus grant your petitions as we pray to him today, Amen.

Fr. Zifac Leonard
Kumbo Diocese