Used with permission: Flicker User Leonid Mamchenkov
Used with permission: Flicker User Leonid Mamchenkov

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Daddy, I need you!” That’s a phrase I often hear my kids yell throughout the house. Naturally I come running, assuming that one of them has attempted an incredible feat of acrobatics that has resulted in a change of plans for the day and a trip to the ER. Usually, it turns out they just wanted a snack, or were particularly comfortable on the couch and wanted me to get their water from across the room. Depending what I stopped doing in the other room, I might roll my eyes a bit at the relative lack of urgency.

But sometimes they do really need my help and I’m reminded how dependent they are on me. They’re only 5 and 3, by the way, in case you were picturing sophomores in high school. And when their need is more serious than wanting another round of apple juice, it’s usually pretty obvious to me as soon as I run into the room. Sometimes I’ll take one look and depending on the emergency I’ll get the broom, a band-aid, or some tissues to dry the tears.

In this week’s Gospel passage from Mark, Jesus encounters a blind man who has been calling out for him. Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” It’s an interesting question, since clearly Jesus knew the man was blind and could have healed him without this question and answer. And in a passage from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus even says that the Father knows our needs before we ask him. Even with my own kids, I usually have a pretty good idea what they need. But here Jesus seems to have wanted the man to ask specifically for what he needed. “Master, I want to see.”

Jesus wants us to ask for our needs too (even though he already knows them!) We really do believe that he hears and answers our prayers according to his will. I don’t mean give Jesus your “wish list” – he’s not a genie. There’s a difference between bringing Jesus our own needs/the needs of others and telling him that we’d really love to find a close parking space and $20 on the sidewalk. He may very well bless you with those things too, but that’s not what we’re getting at here. But when we bring him the needs and situations on our hearts, especially the ones we have no control over and have no choice but to lift them up to God, that is so often when God works. When he heals. Not always in the way we expect or would like, but almost always in ways draw people closer to himself. Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus in this week’s Gospel, even before he was healed. It says that immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way – but he very well may have followed Jesus even if his sight weren’t restored. Simply encountering Jesus and being called by him may have been enough.

We’ll also never know this side of heaven how certain things might have played out had we not prayed. Not that we can “change” God’s mind, but it’s possible that from all eternity, he has willed our prayers to be part of the cause that brings something about. So, pray! Ask! At the very least it brings us closer to God, and we may even be surprised at how Jesus answers us. Now if you’ll excuse me, I better go check on the kids again to make sure the kitchen floor isn’t covered in spilled Capri Suns or animal cracker crumbs. I’ll grab the broom on the way just in case.