Have you ever been shushed?
You know what I mean.
Has anyone ever told you be quiet, to silence your voice, bite your tongue, or even worse—
Sure you have.
All of us at one point or another are silenced.
Sometimes, we think it happens mostly to kids. You know, the annoying boy kicking your seat on the airplane and saying “Noooooooooooooo” like a siren to his mom.
Or the little girl incessantly singing the same song over and over again from Frozen.
Or the three-month-old baby who finds it convenient to cry loudly every night at 3am. And then again at 5am.
Oh…..just shut it!
But it doesn’t just happen to kids, now does it? Teenagers get shushed too. I remember, and I still see it. A junior high student raises her hand without being called on and asks a question about the current homework assignment, not really assigning blame to the teacher, but simply challenging its validity and whether or not it’s busy work.
Or, the four teens who request to meet with their church’s board to remark on the drab, boring, and unwelcoming worship service, lack of service projects, and lack of young people in general?
Oh, just shut your trap!
But for adults, it applies, too. How many of you have sat in meeting with an idea or a question, only to be told to be quiet? Or maybe you were just completely ignored?
Have you wanted to say something true [but also uncomfortable], only to be silenced by your own family or friends?
And how many men and women, living on the streets of our cities and towns, have spoken or even cried out, only they are never heard? How many black voices, in our cities, towns, and suburbs, only wishing for people to acknowledge the pain and discrimination they have felt, are silenced [BlackLivesMatter]? How many children, youth, and adult voices are silenced when war breaks out and homes are burned and families displaced? How many farmers and migrant workers, who toil in the land and pick fruits and vegetables, are silenced when they speak out against the unfair treatment they receive? How many battered women, who have been abused and trapped, when they cry out to their families, friends, colleagues, and churches—how many of them are heard?
It’s true, isn’t it?
We silence voices all the time.
And we all get shushed.
That’s why I will argue that Bartimaues’ story is worth checking out.
Bartimaues is called the son of Timaeus. Okay, time to analyze that.
At first glance, it’s easy.
Bar is like son in Aramaic.
It’s like the Mac in MacDonald.
And there’s the Greek Timaues, which means someone to honor.
So…son of Timaues, someone to honor, right?
Mark’s Gospel is writing to a Greek audience.
Why would he combine Aramaic with Greek, and by the way, when you do that in this case, it’s redundant.
So what if????
What if the second part of Bartimaeus is not Greek but instead derived from a Hebrew word, טמא (tame)?
Well, then everything changes.
Tame means unclean.
So, consistent with Mark’s story, could it be that Bartimaeus is a name that means “son of the unclean?”
Why does this matter, you ask?
Because the Gospels rarely name people who are healed. And this story is not just in Mark—it’s in Matthew and Luke, too. But the blind man is not named in the other two. Mark’s Gospel, however, goes out of the way to make sure we remember and hear this name:
Bartimaues, son of the unclean.
That sticks with me—say the name.
Say out loud the names of people who are voiceless.
Don’t be silent. And stop silencing people.
Say their names.
And then notice what Bartimaeus does. He calls out to Jesus.
No one can keep him silent.
People tried to, but to no avail.
He cried out even louder: have mercy on me!
Jesus stood still. And then he called to Bartimaues.
We don’t know who it was who told Bartimaeus to shush up; but we do know that Jesus instructed people to call out to Bartimaues.
Take heart, get up, he is calling you.
Bartimaues didn’t hesitate to cry out; neither did he hesitate to spring up and throw off his cloak. Throwing off one’s cloak was a sign in the Gospels of someone deciding to follow the way of abundant life and mercy.
And contrary to an earlier story, in which a rich man came to Jesus and asked Jesus for the keys to eternal life, Jesus asked Bartimaeus:
What can I do for you?
And Bartimaues said: let me see again.
And he regained his sight and went on the way.
Seeing in the Gospels is also a sign that a person had turned things around, woken up, experienced an enlightened moment.
What a story, right?
I asked early on, have you ever been shushed?
I know that you answered in the affirmative.
So, I think the challenge is clear.
Will you cry out?
Will you cry out in honesty, say what needs to be said [no matter how difficult], will you speak the truth when it’s unpopular and when others shush you? Will you?
Secondly, will you stop silencing others? I mean it. Will you stop silencing others? Don’t try to filter people’s thoughts or responses. Look, I understand tactfulness. I get political correctness. And of course–words that are meant to hurt or disparage another human being have no point to them. I get that. But too often we are silent or we silence others, just because we think it’s the “nice” thing to do.
But really it’s the comfortable thing to do.
There’s nothing nice about it. If you have something truthful to say, say it. If someone needs to express him/herself, even when it’s difficult stuff to hear, let them say it.
Let them cry out.
And you should cry out, too.
Because the response is clear.
God is not interested in well-parsed words aimed to pacify or avoid confrontation.
God is interested in honesty.
When we call out, and when we allow others to call out, good things happen.
Names of people forgotten and ignored are recognized and said out loud.
And when you cry out, you are called to.
Whatever you’re going through, you are being called to.
Your name [and life] matter.
So don’t be silent when it matters; when justice is absent.
Don’t shush others when they have something to say or do.
Don’t be afraid to be honest.
And expect mercy; expect guidance for your path; expect wholeness; accept healing.
 Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary).