“What do you want me to do for you?”

A few weeks ago I found myself sharing breakfast with about a dozen other people at a diner in Vernon, Connecticut. We were reflecting on the Gospel reading for the thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the healing of Bartimaeus, the blind man (Mark 10:46-52).

Here’s the reading:

“They came to Jericho. And as he 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, he 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.” Mark 10:46-52, NABRV

We were asked consider how we would answer if Jesus asked us, “What do you want me to do for you?”  With one notable exception, all of us responded with a request for healing for some other person or situation. The one exception was a man named “Chad”, who actually was blind. Chad answered with no hesitation, “I would ask Jesus to heal me of my blindness.

I suppose that it’s normal, unless we’re truly cognizant of our own desperation and vulnerability, to feel uncomfortable about asking for something for ourselves.

How would you reply to Jesus?

I’ve found no better answer to that question than that provided by St. Peter Faber S.J., a co-founder of the Society of Jesus, in his “Prayer for Detachment”:

I beg of you, my Lord, to remove anything which separates me from you, and you from me.

Remove anything that makes me unworthy of your sight, your control, your reprehension; of your speech and conversation, of your benevolence and love.

Cast from me every evil that stands in the way of my seeing you, hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you; fearing and being mindful of you; knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you; being conscious of your presence and, as far as may be, enjoying you. This is what I ask for myself and earnestly desire from you.  Amen.

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