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19th December: Bartimaeus on your Ward

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, a beggar named Bartimaeus... sitting by the road... heard that it was Jesus. He began to shout `Jesus! Son of David! Take pity on me!' Many of the people scolded him and told him to be qui

It was a great procession. The crowd was hoping that Jesus would fulfil their expectations as the King of Glory. Many lined the route, and Jesus was the centre of attention. The blind man at the fringe of it all and sitting on the ground was excluded by the mass of shuffling feet. How could he attract attention? He shouted out, but his cry was ignored, even rebuked -- they had other things to think about just now, the request for help was ill-timed, and the interruption was a nuisance. But Jesus heard. He stopped and asked to talk to him. He gave his whole attention to the one who wanted him, as though there was no one else there and nothing else to do. He met his need then and there.

I am reminded of a typical ward round; the consultant and his retinue proceed from bed to bed, with house officer, sister and the patients' notes at the centre of the party. The house officer is keen to impress with his memory of blood results, and his knowledge of the small print footnotes of Bailey and Love (a much-loved surgical textbook in UK). Does he hear the faint cry coming from outside the circle? So often a quiet `Doctor...?' can be heard from a patient with a simple question to ask about his progress. But it is ignored. He is too late, and the `round' has progressed further down the ward. Sometimes it is an anxious wife who raises her eyebrows as if to speak, hoping to be acknowledged and spoken to, or a nurse trying to get a word in, knowing that a need has been overlooked.

Try to notice the Bartimaeus on your ward today. Stop and listen or, with a quick nod of understanding and a word of promise to return later, calm his fears and anxieties.

Lord make me sensitive to the spoken and unspoken needs of my patients. May I be quick to hear and respond to the plea for help, or to see the mute appeal in the eyes that follow me down the ward. May I never be too preoccupied to notice, or too busy to stop. Grant that I may comfort those in trouble with the comfort with which I myself am comforted of God.

Further reading: Mk 10:46-52.


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