Homily for Thursday Night's 9 PM Mass/Eucharistic Adoration - at the Newman Catholic Center - Montclair State University.
The Gospel reading from Mark 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 lot of you know that this is probably one of my favorite miracle scenes from the Gospels, and because of that, I reference this scene a lot in spiritual direction or confession. Look at how much respect Jesus has for each of us and for our individual freedom.
The blind man by the side of the road is begging, probably something he’s grown accustomed to doing every day. He hears that Jesus has passed by and he calls out “Jesus Son of God have pity on me”. Jesus goes over and asks “what do you want me to do for you?” Initially it seems like a dumb question to ask... I mean, this is Jesus, right? So, I’m half waiting for Bartimeus to go “Really?” what do you think I want Lord?
But the more I think about this scene and think about how I respond in my own “Bartimeus-moments” when the Lord is asking me “What do you want me to do for you?” well, Jesus has every reason to ask that question. Because sometimes – no I don’t want the cure...I’m miserable, but I want to stay miserable... What do I want Lord?
- I want to moan to you about how messed up my life is.
-I want to tell you about all the miserable people who passed by and didn’t give me anything.
- I want you to give me some food or some cash today...
For Bartimeus to ask for his sight though? That’s a lot harder to ask for.
-Bartimeus has to actually believe it’s possible for that to happen.
- He has to believe that Jesus can do this and wants to do this.
- He has to be bold enough to ask.
- He has to realize that when this happens, his life will change completely
- so he won’t be able to beg, or complain about the lack of charity of others.
- In fact, now he will be required to bear witness to what Jesus has done so that those still suffering will know that God loves them and desires their fullness.
What about us? With Jesus here among us, Jesus who will be within us when we receive him in the Eucharist, and right in front of us in adoration... as you gaze on Him and he gazes back at you - Jesus in this moment is asking us - What do you want me to do for you?
- Is it to be free finally of a sin we’ve been struggling with?
- Is it to let go of a fear that has held us back from an even deeper relationship with Jesus Christ?
- Is it to hear the truth, to BELIEVE the truth of how truly loved, truly precious we are in His eyes instead of the awful lies that the world continues to spew and have come to believe about what is “beautiful”?
Whatever it is, we’re challenged to take a moment and remember who it is who comes to us. Jesus who desires our fullness comes. Bartimeus’ witness speaks thousands of years later that Jesus can be trusted - that we can be vulnerable, we can be bold, we can believe in Him and trust Him to listen to us, to be attentive to us, as he asks us What do you want me to do for you?