As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.’” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” (Mark 10:17-27)
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish (me) to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:35-45)
As Jesus 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, Jesus 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)
Jesus’ call to each of us as Catholic men is to follow him in a life of service in a spirit of humility and love. Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man (Mark 10:17-27) and James and John’s request (10:35-45), emphasize both the impossibility of following the Lord on our own strength and God’s abundant generosity in enabling us to do things that are beyond our natural ability. In these stories, we meet people whose responses fell short of what Jesus was looking for. But in the story of blind Bartimaeus (10:46-52), we are introduced to someone who understood.
Jesus asked Bartimaeus the same question he asked James and John: “What do you want me to do for you?” (See Mark 10:51; 10:36.). He knew that they would only ask of him the things they believed he could accomplish, and that this would reveal who they really thought he was. Was Jesus just a good and wise teacher (10:17)? Was he a king who promoted his loyal followers (10:37)? Or was he the Son of David who could perform the miraculous with a word of command (10:51-52)?
Bartimaeus asked for something that he could not accomplish on his own, while James and John asked for something they felt they could live up to. To petition in our weakness and need is harder for us, because it requires humility as well as faith. Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus despite the crowd’s rebuke. He saw his helplessness, but he also trusted that Jesus would answer him.
We all have different needs: physical, financial, relational, and spiritual. No matter what our need, however, Jesus can help us if we cry out to him in prayer. The world often rebukes simple faith in God, but God never does. So cry out to Jesus in prayer as Bartimaeus did. Let God’s love, which has been poured out in the person of Jesus Christ, transform you. Be humble but confident. Trust that what the Angel Gabriel said to Mary is also true for you, “Nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).
Right now, during this grace-filled season, Jesus is asking each of us: “What do you want me to do for you?”
Lord Jesus, during this Lenten Season, prepare my heart to receive more of your love and deepen my faith in you, so I can serve you in humility and love. I cry out to you believing that you will answer my prayer for healing, for peace, and for salvation – not only for me but for all my loved ones. Son of David, have mercy on me.
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. How would you characterize your response to Jesus’ call to “follow him in a life of service in a spirit of humility and love?”
2. The article speaks of the “impossibility of following the Lord on our own strength.” Why is this true? Why does it require “God’s abundant generosity in enabling us to do things that are beyond our natural ability?”
3. The article also contrasts the behavior of the rich young man, James and John, and the blind Bartimaeus. Which of these do you relate to the most? What steps can you take to build that faith and humility that Bartimaeus had?
4. The article ends with these words, “Right now, during this grace-filled season, Jesus is asking each of us: “What do you want me to do for you?” Take some time to prayerfully reflect on how you would respond to this question. What are the two or three most important needs in your life right now?
5. Do you believe that Jesus can answer your prayers in these areas? Do you believe that what the Angel Gabriel said to Mary is true for you? “Nothing is impossible for God.” If you are in a men’s group, end your meeting by praying to Jesus for one another’s needs, using the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.