One of the most difficult things today is to celebrate faith, especially
in Africa where the message of Christ has been twisted and diluted
such that if Christ was to return today, He might fail to recognize
himself in the sermons and teachings attributed to him in Africa. In the
midst of all this, the Church in Africa is told ‘Take heart, rise. He is
calling you’; the final chapter of the document ‘Africae Munus’ by
Pope Benedict. Biblical scholars have spent vast amounts of time on
this passage trying to figure out the proper meaning of this call.
Whether or not this call - φωνεῖ σε phonei se - is identical to that of
the disciples - προσκαλέσατε proskalesate or καλέσατε kalesate
remains open to interpretation and argumentation. However,
considering the Markan cruciform discipleship one is inclined to
explore the meaning of this passage, bearing in mind that in this
instance Jesus tells those around him to call the blind Bartimaeus.
What is certain is the fact that this call is not lesser than that of the
disciples. We are also told that, upon his healing, Bartimaeus ‘follows
Jesus along the way’; the first time such an event takes place in Mark,
conveniently at the Gospel’s final miracle. In this paper, I am going to
explore the meaning of this pericope, especially the words ‘Take heart,
arise, he is calling you’ ‘Θάρσει, ἔγειρε, φωνεῖ σε’ and what they could
mean for the Church in Africa vis a vis the prevalent circumstances.
An exegesis of Tharsei, Egeire, Phonei se