That has always been a difficult question to answer because it requires us to think about the difference between what we want and what we really need. I’m reminded of the story of a teenage boy who went shopping with his Dad for a new pair of athletic shoes. When they got to the store the boy found just the shoes he “needed”: A pair of Nike, Air-Jordon Retro Hi-tops.
“Oh please dad, pleeease…these are just what I neeeeed for gym class: And, they’re ONLY $350 bucks.” You could see the look of disbelief wash over the father’s face. How could any teenage boy need a pair of $350 athletic shoes? So the dad did what most dads would do in that situation. He put his arm around his son, drew him in close and began to discuss the realities of life with him. He explained to his son that unless he was indeed Michael Jordan, or had a job that made him independently wealthy, he really didn’t need a $350 pair of “sneakers.” The dad told his son that he had set aside $50 to buy his new athletic shoes. And then he said: Son, now let me tell you what you really need: $300 bucks.
It always helps to understand what we need before we ask for what we want.
Today’s Gospel also tells us something about needs and wants. Bartimaeus needs to know that Jesus, the son of God, loves him and cares for him. He needs to know that he is not just an “annoyance” to those around him. In faith, he cries out with a persistent prayer: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus, recognizing the depth of his faith, turns to Bartimaeus and asks: “What do you want me to do for you?” It all begins with faith!
Have you ever noticed that Jesus always tends to draw a crowd? Whenever he’s nearby, people want to be with him. Why? Because faith assures them that Jesus will help them with whatever they need. We saw a great example of that unquestioning faith two weeks ago right here in our parish. When word got out that Jesus was nearby, over a hundred people from four different parishes came to be with him at a healing Mass in our parish center. They came to Our Lord without pretense: young and old, weak or ailing, physically or mentally incapacitated. Some were spiritually broken. Others were angry, suffering from grief and doubt in their life. Still others brought their frustrations and loneliness to Our Lord. But most importantly, everyone brought the Faith of Bartimaeus in their desire to be with Jesus.
No one came to that Mass expecting to be healed of their affliction; even though that’s what they wanted. Rather, they came in faith, trusting that God would give them what they needed. They came to feel the presence of God’s love and mercy in their life and to know that they too have a place in our community. Our Lord renewed in everyone who attended that celebration the courage and grace they needed to continue walking with Jesus along the way of life.
It’s by faith and persistent prayer that we call out to Jesus, asking Him to be with us and to give us what we need. Our most sincere prayer is the same one the blind man brought to Our Lord: “Master, I want to see” – to “see” God’s love and compassion, to see his mercy and forgiveness, to see his peace and justice at work in the world.
Every day in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation Jesus gives us what we need to heal the brokenness in our life. Every day he affirms his love for us by asking us: “What do you want me to do for you?”
It really is a question that makes you think! How do I answer that? A good place to start is by following the example of Bartimaeus:
- First: Pray…with a purpose. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” That’s one way of doing it but I’m pretty sure God listens to all of your prayers no matter how you phrase them. Have the courage to ask God each day for what you want him to do for you. Then let him work out the details, trusting that he will give you what you really need.
- Next: When you pray, don’t get discouraged. Be persistent and make prayer a part of your daily routine. It may take a little while, but God never lets any prayer go unanswered.
- Then, look for an opportunity to be with Our Lord each and every day. He’s never far away. Even a blind man could spot Him in a crowd. By your faith let Jesus know that you want Him and need Him to be a part of your life.
- Finally: Go to confession to receive Our Lord’s compassion and mercy. Go to Mass and be strengthened in His love through the reception of Holy Communion.
Tomorrow morning when Jesus asks you: “What do you want me to do for you?” you’ll have something to think about.
Then,in faith and prayer, you can tell him exactly what you need!
God bless you!