- James Kennedy, SJ
Mark 10: 46-52: Ignatian Contemplation
Praying with your imagination is a great way to let God speak to you. As you pray, pay attention to your feelings and emotions, such as fear, happiness, joy, hope, peace, faith, love. Read through it, and use the steps as you try this prayer the first time. If you feel like changing something, or doing it your own way that feels better, go for it. Don’t worry about “doing it right.” Follow whatever leads you closer to God, and to his healing, mercy, love, faith, and hope.
Today, we invite you to pray with the Gospel of Mark through an Ignatian contemplation. In chapter 10 of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus heals the Bartimaeus, a blind man, who then, having been healed, follows Jesus “on the way.” This scene happens before Jesus arrives in Jerusalem for his confrontation with the religious authorities, the Last Supper, his Passion, his death, and his Resurrection.
This story is a great passage with which to perform an Ignatian contemplation: the desire of Bartimaeus to meet Jesus burns brightly on the page and the compassionate response of Jesus to Bartimaeus demonstrates the love and mercy of Jesus as few other passages do. Like many passages from the Gospel of Mark, the healing of Bartimaeus radiates intense emotions and so can charge the imagination.
Settle into whatever position you intend to pray, whether that is sitting in a comfortable chair, kneeling, lying down, or walking. Then, take a moment to relax, paying careful attention to your breathing and posture.
Begin your prayer by asking God for the grace that you seek: search your heart and speak to God about what you want most.
Then, read through Mark 10:46-52 once, paying close attention to the details. Once you have read through the passage, immerse yourself fully into the story, as if you were really there:
The healing of Bartimaeus takes place on the road to Jerusalem up from Jericho, a famous road in the Bible. What do you see around you? How many people are there? What are they doing? What do they look like?
The road from Jericho to Jerusalem is the path pilgrims took to the temple of Jerusalem; it is also the road where, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, robbers attacked a traveler, leaving him near death. How does it feel to travel along such a road rich in meaning? Are you afraid to be in a dangerous place? Or are you happy to be part of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the great city of David?
Ignatian contemplations are meant to engage all your senses, including smell and even taste. As you enter the scene, what scents fill your nose?
Lastly, we are meant to hear the word of God in an Ignatian contemplation. As the scene unfolds before you, what do you hear? What are people talking about?
Read the passage one more time. Put yourself completely in the scene. Who are you? Are you sitting with Bartimaeus? Are you part of the crowd with Jesus? Don’t worry about trying to do the “right thing”, just let yourself imagine.
Now, hear Bartimaeus cry out. What does he say? What does he look like to you? How would you describe his demeanor or attitude? How do his words resonate with you and your desires? Pay attention to your feelings in your heart.
The crowd reacts to Bartimaeus. You react to Bartimaeus. How does the crowd react to him? Do they ignore him? Tell him to shut up? Or are they compassionate to him, sharing in his desire to be heard by Jesus? Which is your reaction? Pay attention to your feelings in your heart.
Then Jesus stops. How does he seem? Imagine his face, taking time to see his expression in full. How does he react to Bartimaeus? What do you hear him say? Pay attention to your feelings in your heart.
Whatever Jesus says, you see Bartimaeus leap up and run to Jesus. How does Bartimaeus seem to you? Eager? Desperate? Hopeful? Then, you hear Jesus ask Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” How does Bartimaeus react to the question? What does he say to Jesus? Again, what do you feel in your heart?
Jesus gives Bartimaeus his sight. Then, Jesus turns to you and starts speaking with you. Imagine His compassion. Jesus asks you the question he asked Bartimaeus: what do you want me to do for you? What do you want to say to him? Again, what do you feel in your heart?
Finally, take some time to talk to Jesus. Tell Him what you want, what you are grateful for, how you are feeling. And let Him speak to you in your imagination.
End with a short prayer, and thank God for His gifts.
Questions to Consider when you finish your prayer:
What moment stood out to me most as I contemplated the scene?
What did I feel during my prayer?
What did God say to you? What did you say to God?
What do I take away from this experience of prayer?