“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man wishes, that he also believes to be true.” ― Demosthenes: 384–322 BC) was a Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens
Gospel Text: (MK 10:46-52)
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,
Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,
sat by the roadside begging.
On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out and say,
“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”
Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
Immediately he received his sight
and followed him on the way.
A couple of points I would like to bring to light about this gospel passage:
First, Bartimaeus refuses to let the crowd quiet his voice. Yes, he is a beggar, but he somehow knows this is a moment that too quickly can pass. He cannot let that happen. He must reach out to Jesus.
Second, Jesus is able to pick out of the cacophony of sounds and voices this one voice, this blind beggar pleading for mercy. There was something different in Bartimaeus’ voice that Jesus discerned amidst all the others.
Third, there is this seemingly out of place line, “He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.” Some biblical scholars suggest that the “cloak” represents a type of uniform or designation of Bartimaeus as a legitimate beggar. Whatever it was, it seems important enough—demeaning enough—that he throws off his old self to go to Jesus.
And now the big question….. “What do you want me to do for you?”
This is the question Jesus asks each one of us. He does not tell us what we should want. Rather he asks us what we want, what we really want deep down. Bartimaeus does not ask for a house, for a job, for a Mercedes-Benz. He says, “I want to see.” In receiving his sight, he can rejoin the community that put a cloak on him and sat him by the side of the road to beg. In this honest encounter, he becomes a disciple and follows Jesus along the way. Bartimaeus seems to say, I am not a blind beggar; I am a disciple of the Lord.
So what do we want? Really, deeply want? What do we say to Jesus who asks us, “What do you want me to do for you?” So before we raise our voice and call out to Jesus, and before we throw off the “cloak” that burdens us or defines us, we first need to know our deepest desire: “Master, I want to see.”