46They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then 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.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Philadelphia sports fans can be a contentious lot. We have the reputation for being passionate, knowledgeable and, in some cases, loud and obnoxious. We boo poor performance. But one thing Philadelphia sports fans do not boo is heart. If a player makes a mistake but is giving his all, he gets a pass – we say he has “heart”. Look at the Philadelphia Flyers. Their last championship was 1975 but fans love them – because they play with heart.
Heart is important. Having heart is about bravery in the face of turmoil, giving your all, doing your best and the like. It is not about being the best or having all the talents. It is more a state of mind than of physicality.
In our gospel text Bartimaeus is told to “take heart, get up, he is calling you.” Yet Bartimaeus already has heart. Even when told to be quiet, he continues to shout, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Bartimaeus may be blind, he may be a poor beggar, but he does not lack heart. And what does that heart get him? The attention of Jesus and the healing of his blindness.
Take heart today. Yes, things are still a mess. Yes, we are not sure when we will gather together again, but we still do our best. We still gather to worship and pray in the ways we can. We still support each other; we still care for each other. We still have heart.
And heart will lead us to mercy and healing.