Ignatian Contemplation: Blind Bartimaeus
Gospel Contemplation is a way of praying that St. Ignatius proposes quite frequently in his Spiritual Exercises. You are invited to use your imagination to enter the scene, to take part, to let the scene unfold. As Ignatius suggests, notice the people, listen to them, watch what they do [SE, 106, 107, 108]. Perhaps you may sense an invitation to be one of the individuals in the scene and engage in a conversation with one of them. You can do this on your own, or use the text below as a guide.
If this way of praying is new – simply relax and try to become engaged in the scene. Try not to worry about what you are “supposed to” be doing. If you find yourself distracted during your prayer, very gently bring yourself back to the scripture text or your imaginative contemplation.
If at any point during the guided contemplation your imagination comes to life in such a way that God invites to you stay with a particular moment, follow the invitation that you sense, rather than move on to where the written contemplation is going. In that case you might want to stop reading and continue on your own.
Quiet your body and mind
- Choose a position where you can be relaxed but alert.
- Breathe deeply several times and let your body relax
- Breathe out any worries or stressful thoughts and put them in God’s hands
- Become aware of God’s presence here with you now, looking at you with love.
Ask for a grace
- Ask God for whatever you desire most in this prayer time. If you are not sure what to ask for, you might ask for the grace to know what you would like Jesus to do for you.
Read the scripture passage
Read the passage slowly, savoring the words and beginning to imagine the scene. Read it twice if that helps you to visualize it.
As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Jesus is leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd. Can you see the scene? It doesn’t matter what Jericho really looked like then or now -- just imagine Jesus and the crowd as he reaches the outskirts of a town.
What is the landscape like? Are there many buildings around, or is it just about the countryside?
See all the people -- how large of a crowd is it? What do they look like? Place yourself there, in the scene.
What is the day like? Is it warm? Sunny? Cloudy? Cool? Is there a breeze that you can feel on your skin? What can you hear?
See Jesus. What does he look like to you? Notice everything you can about him -- is his skin darker or lighter? Are his clothes like biblical times or more contemporary? Notice how he interacts with his disciples and the crowds. What kind of expression does he have on his face?
Who are you in the scene? You might be in the crowd, one of Jesus’ disciples, or even the blind beggar.
A cry rings out -- the beggar calling to Jesus for mercy. How does this call for assistance touch you?
The crowd tries to quiet the beggar, but Jesus asks that the beggar be brought to him.
Jesus says, “What do you want me to do for you?” Listen to the beggar’s request for sight. What is it like for you as Jesus gives the gift of sight?
Is there an area in your life where Jesus’ touch could help you to see better, perhaps through Jesus’ eyes?
Jesus says to you, “What do you want me to do for you?” Let this question sink in, and give your response to Jesus from your heart. Listen to his response and talk with him for a moment, as with a friend.
And when you are ready, close with a favorite prayer.
Review of Prayer
St. Ignatius recommends that we review our prayer. A written review has many advantages. It enables us to look back on our prayer experience, and to notice what happened. It allows us to be fully present to our experience of prayer. We do not write while we are praying. The review of prayer enables us not to judge ourselves or look for how well we are doing. It helps us to become more sensitive to how God is speaking to us in the here and now. It is also a precious record of our journey with God, which nourishes wholeness and integration.
Some questions to assist with your review:
What happened in your prayer?
What feelings did you experience?
During the prayer period, when did you feel encouraged?
When did you feel discouraged?
Did you receive the grace you asked for?
What did you receive?