Reflection by Fr. Ray Cook, OMI, Originally Published by the Texas Catholic Herald
(Re-posted with permission)
In Mark’s Gospel very few outsiders are given names and, of the multitudes who were healed, the second occurrence of two blind people who encountered Jesus is the only one that has that privilege: Bartimaeus. This miraculous account also stands out because it is the last public healing Mark spends time on; it’s the end of a journey, and we now head toward Jerusalem.
The exchange between Jesus and Bartimaeus comes to a climax as the question is posed by Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?” and the honest reply, “Master, I want to see.” (NAB 10:51) Many translations show the response as “…that I may see again.” Both are imploring of Jesus to “see” with one suggesting he once saw before.
This healing may be more about faith than about physical healing. Yes, he wants his sight restored and already has faith as witnessed by his begging before Jesus, but there is more. The people I minister with are coming out of adolescence and emerging into adulthood.
They come in with a childlike faith or even blindness to faith and beg the response to the never-ending question from Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?” When we respond “I want to see,” what is it that we want to see? I have sight, so I do not need to ask for sight… right? It almost seems silly for me to answer the question in that way. However, it’s not silly at all. I would argue that it is of utmost importance that we continually respond with a never-ending answer “I want to see!”
This would be an excellent prayer especially in times when our faith seems lacking or out of sync. The times when we don’t feel our faith as strongly as before. I don’t think I need to pray for what I want to see, because then my sight would be looking for that thing. I want to let Jesus surprise me with the gift of sight in the direction He wills.
This isn’t as casual as it seems, and it is not a prayer to be taken lightly. Sometimes when we humbly ask to “see,” we uncover something about ourselves that we do not want to see. We see our distrust, our weaknesses, our creation of division, our desire for power or revenge, our faults and our failings. All those times when we did not love God and our neighbor as we have been called to do. Do I really want to see that?
This desire to see what God wills of us also allows us to have sight of the truth and beauty of our humanity as well. It’s not all bad, and perhaps it is mostly good. God might will that we see all the goodness that exists in our world, all the love that we give to others and all the time when we have served Him and our neighbors well.
Your name is Bartimaeus, and you are praying for sight; What sight does Jesus want you to have? As you walk away from that prayer, you may begin to see something new or see once again.
Father Ray Cook, O.M.I., is the director and chaplain of the Rice University Catholic Student Center.