Gospel For Today


Today’s gospel reading from Mark brings us the story of Bartimaeus, the blind man who encountered Jesus on the road outside of Jericho.  Bartimaeus calls out for pity and so Jesus summons him.  And then our Lord asks a very important question.  “What do you want me to do for you?”

My question to you this day is this:  Why?  Why did Jesus ask this question?
In one regard, it seems a rather ridiculous thing to ask.  If this scene were being replayed as a modern day sketch comedy, one could envision Bartimaeus (or “Barty” as he would no doubt be called), pointing to his eyes and saying, “Hello!  Blind man here!  What do you think I want you to do?”
But considered on a more theological level, the question still seems a bit pointless.  After all, Jesus is the Son of God.  He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, all-knowing, all-seeing, and all that.  Wouldn’t He know good and well what Bartimaeus wanted of Him?  Is He just making this poor blind man go through the motions to restore his sight?  What is the purpose of the question?
I ask you to consider this: It is not for Jesus’ benefit that He asks this.  Of course, as God Incarnate, Christ already knows the answer.  So if we concede that Jesus does not ask this for his own benefit, then He must be asking for Bartimaeus’ benefit.  Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” 
Bartimaeus responds with a plea.  “Master, I want to see.”
Upon hearing this, Jesus tells him, “Go your way.  Your faith has saved you.”  Bartimaeus’ simple words, “Master, I want to see,” was an expression of his faith in Jesus.  It expressed his faith that Jesus was the Christ, that Jesus possessed the power and authority to heal him, and trust that He would do so.  Jesus asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” in order that Bartimaeus might have the opportunity to express his saving faith.
There is a lesson here for us in our prayer life.  How many times have you struggled with prayer, because you don’t quite see the point?  How many times have you asked yourself, why bother asking God for help?  He knows I need help already.  He knows what is best for me.  What are my prayers going to do to change that?  
How many times have you put off going to Confession, telling yourself that God already knows you are sorry.  He knows what is in your heart.  Why bother saying it?
Just like Bartimaeus’ answer to Christ in today’s Gospel, we do not do these things because God needs us to do them, but because we need to do them.  God does not want us to come to Him in prayer for his benefit, but for ours.  We need to say the words.  We need to say, “Father, I need you.”  We need to say, “Father, please help me.”  We need to say, “Father, I am sorry.”  We need to give expression to our thoughts, dreams, sorrows, struggles, joys and repentance.  
As a father myself, I know that when I have caught my children doing something wrong, part of the resolution of that I seek is hearing them admit, in their own words, that they have done wrong and are sorry.  As a father, I know what’s best for my children, but when they have wants and desires, I still want them to come to me and ask for those things.  Sometimes the answer may be “no,” or “not now,” but I still want them to feel comfortable approaching me to ask.  
God is Father to all of us.  We are all his children.  He wants us to communicate with him, to bring him our needs, to express our repentance and regrets, and to express our love.  He wants to hear us say the words, not because He does not already know the content of our hearts, but He wants us to know ourselves, as well.  
Pray.  Pray every day.  It’s good for you.  And if you don’t know where to start, you can begin with the simple plea of Bartimaeus.  “Master, I want to see.”

WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723