Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone


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What do you want me to do for you?

Mark 10:46-52
Today’s Gospel from the Daily Office

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.

Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

On this last “normal day” in Lent, the Daily Office gives us the wonderful story of blind Bartimaeus. The blind man sits on the roadside. Why does he sit? Perhaps because he is insecure. Standing, especially in a crowd, might bring about a fall. So, sitting, he starts yelling for Jesus. Those around him tell him to shut up. They are embarrassed by the disturbance.

When Jesus stops and calls for him, they suddenly shift. Bartimaeus has no power, no influence; so his cries are annoying. But Jesus, who (at this moment) is popular and exciting calls for him, the crowd becomes suddenly friendly.

Bartimaeus stands and approaches Jesus. And Jesus asks that great question, at one time encouraging, humorous, and touching: ‘what do you want me to do for you?’

Some of us sit insecure on the side of the road. Some of us annoy others with our cries for help. We can be weak, even pathetic. We can feel like an outcast in a crowd. But Jesus comes to us, too. And here at the beginning of Holy Week, as our personal Lenten disciplines give way to the corporate action of the world-wide Church, he asks us “what do you want me to do for you?”

Today, I encourage you to answer that question. What do you want Jesus to do for you? Is that selfish? No, because it is our Lord who does the asking. Should we ignore his invitation? Of course not. Today, then, answer the question. “Jesus, I need you to do X for me.” Give him the opportunity to meet you where you are today. And then join him, and his Church, as we press into the great mysteries beginning with Palm Sunday tomorrow.