Sybil 1998

Gospel text

Mark 10: 46-52

42 And as Jesus was coming out of the city of Jericho with his disciples, and as well a great multitude, behold, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, "Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me". But most people told him to shut up. He, for his part, shouted even louder: "Son of David, have mercy on me." 49 Having stopped, Jesus said, "Call him." The blind man was called with the saying, "Be courageous! Get up, because he's calling you". 50 He, having got rid of his cloak and leapt up, went to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied: "Rabbouni, I want to regain my sight." 52 Then Jesus answered him, "Go, your faith has healed you." He immediately found the sight, and began to follow Jesus on the way to Jerusalem.


A race to where?

Gospel commentary - Homily

What do you want me to do for you?

Some time ago, I attended a session on "The 7 Habits of the Most Effective People" according to Stephen Covey. My motivation for these 3 days was to respond to my chronic dissatisfaction at not being able to accomplish everything that was on my agenda: I was finally going to find the technique to insert everything in a day of 24 hours.

My discovery? I had to accept a change of paradigm. Just trying to go faster in my series of daily actions, without asking myself the much deeper question where I wanted to go with all of my life, would just drive me faster in a cul de sac. The solution? To face this difficult question which could be stated like this: when I will celebrate my 80th birthday or at the time of my death, what would I like that those who know me well say about me with truth? Just like what happened at the death of Maurice Richard, national hero in the world of hockey. This is another way of asking the question: what is the main thread of my life? To the extent that large parts of my life are answer to this question, I am an effective man.

The story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar at the gate of Jericho, is part of the answer to this question. He is on the sidelines of the road, he is no longer moving forward, motionless like all the activists who are stagnating. His lifeline will be his desire, a desire that makes him unhappy with his fate, a desire that gives him the flair to spot those who can help him, a desire so strong that few obstacles will succeed in stopping him. How could Bartimaeus cultivate this desire day after day, rather than becoming fatalistic and embittered? How can he say with so much force and truth: "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Here I am confronted to the mystery of the human heart. It is the same mystery that I encounter today by looking at beings who are constantly striving for realities that they do not yet master, and others, too hurt by life, who lock themselves into a space that chokes them.

But what astonishes me just as much is the attitude of Jesus. Why ask the question, "What do you want me to do for you?" We could say, "My goodness, it's not obvious enough that he's blind?" I think that we are faced not only with a feeling of immense respect for the human person, but from a fundamental perspective on human growth: "It's up to you to tell me first the direction you want to give to your life, and after that I will help you to walk on this road you showed me ". After the vague cry: "Have mercy on me," the blind man will say, "I want to regain my sight."

I would like everyone to take the time to answer the same question: what do you want me to do for you? My personal response, in these moments when I am really listening to the mystery that inhabits me, could be stated as this: to succeed in bringing to birth to themselves anyone who is in my way. But here, other answers are also jostling at the door of my house: I want to please everyone, I want my safety, I'm afraid of this and that, I absolutely need this position and this title, I want to be a champion all categories, and now the cards are getting confused, and I do not know anymore...

Mark's genius is to stage this ambivalent crowd, sometimes an obstacle, sometimes a mediator and a support. This crowd, it's me or the events of my life, it's the meeting of certain beings who sometimes alienate me and smother what wants to live in me, but sometimes open the path of lucidity and support me in the most difficult hours. There is also this coat, with all my old habits, of which I must be lighter if I want to leap like Bartimaeus.

I do not know what has become of Bartimaeus. There is one question I would like to ask him: why did you turn to Jesus? What more did he have than the others? Perhaps he would have answered me: he knew where he wanted to go, the thread of his personal life was transparent. And no doubt Bartimaeus could add: André, and all of you who read me, when your life will be truly unified around what you want to become, you will play the same role vis-à-vis others.


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, June 2000