Way back in June, a friend of mine asked before I came on this trip to Kolkata, a question that comes out of Mark 10. At the end of Mark 10, it tells the story of Jesus interacting with a blind man named Bartimaeus. The blind man had been blind for years; what to do you think hes been thinking about during those years? What would it be like for him to see? The goodness of seeing. And so when Bartimaeus heard Jesus was coming from Jericho, he ran to him and asked for mercy. After the disciples rebuked him, he was still persistent and kept asking for mercy. The first thing that Jesus says to Bartimaeus is "what do you want me to do for you?" Now for Bartimaeus, he asked that his sight would be recovered; the one thing he didn't have all his life. My challenge was to think about what my response would be if Jesus asked me that question, "what do you want me to do for you Roberto?"
This question that Jesus asks was on my mind all summer. In some ways, it helped me to constantly be asking where I was and how I knew myself...by getting to know what I actually do want. As I thought about it more, I think Jesus asked the question to see if Bartimaeus really knew who he was by figuring out what he wanted; what he desired most. What does he want? Does he realize who asks him the question? Does he believe he will get a response when he tells Jesus his answer? In many ways, Bartimaeus is at his end and is unable to fix his own problem and even though Jesus is a rabbi and the respect that is given to them is definitely a reason for Bartimaeus' reverence, I think Bartimaeus believes that Jesus can offer him something and the words floating around that he can heal brings Bartimaeus to Jesus. He's blind, an outcast and marginalized in the Jewish world he lives in and is a person in need of physical healing. Because of his physical problem, he can't even receive spiritual atonement to the Lord because of his physical barrier. This is where Jesus comes in; not just to heal his physical problem but to give rise to the deeper loneliness and pain that his soul has felt during his years. So, when he has been healed, the only thing that he can do is follow him as it says at the end of Mark 10:52 because the very person who took away his blindness, is also the same person that took away his loneliness. Here Jesus doesn't just heal the physical or the spiritual, but connects the two and uses the physical healing of Bartimaeus to lead him into the spiritual healing he needs as he ends up "following him on his way".