“I Want To See”
“I Want to See” — Mark 10:52
The blind man, Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, heard the commotion around him and asked about it. When he found out that Jesus, the one from Nazareth that he had heard others talking so much about, was nearby, he cried out desperately, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”
In those days, people believed that if one was blind, or had some terrible disease, it was because of one’s sins. Someone like Bartimaeus would have been marginalized by others, not just because he was blind, but because they believed that he was blind as a result of his sinfulness. The people around Bartimaeus tried to silence him when he started crying out for Jesus’ attention.
Jesus responded to his desperate shouts saying, “Call him.” When Bartimaeus approaches Jesus, Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And here is the center of the passage, the point on which we are meant to focus. Bartimaeus says simply, “Master, I want to see.”
Isn’t this the prayer at the center of all of our hearts? It is our greatest desire to see God in the face, to know him clearly. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” This is the truth. Paul, the great missionary, commissioned by Jesus on the road to Damascus to take the gospel to the Gentiles, knew this personally. He had to be struck down, in his pride, in order to rise up out of his own “blindness” to “see” what Jesus’ life, death and resurrection really meant.
But the other key to the passage is related to Bartimaeus’ (and our) faith, that this Jesus is the One, the only one who can answer our deepest needs. At Bartimaeus’ simple, faithful request, “I want to see,” Jesus tells him (and us), “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Jesus knows us fully, he knows the depth of our faith. He looks us in the eyes, just as he did Bartimaeus’ and tells us to keep living in that faith, for it is this faith in Jesus, the one who died for us on the cross and rose again, that saves us.
What did Bartimaeus do? “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10:52). In Jesus we see the absolute, unconditional love of God for all of us. We see our sinfulness wiped clean and we see the promise of eternity in the Real Presence of God and the communion of saints.
It is our faith in Jesus that gives us the strength to live through the fog of suffering that is the environment of this world. Bartimaeus really represents all of us. If we are given the grace to “see” Jesus for who he really is, what else could we do but follow him on The Way?
Pride, though, can blind us, like it did Saul before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. If our “faith” causes us to separate ourselves from others who are not like us, or causes us to condemn others, rather than pray for them, it is not a faith that Jesus would recognize. If, on the other hand, our faith causes us to “see” all others as our brothers and sisters and moves us to serve them in their need, or to help them “see” Jesus as The Way to the grace and the eternal happiness their souls desire, we will be following Jesus just as Bartimaeus did in this passage from Mark’s Gospel. May it be so.
Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me… “I want to see.”
Dan Doyle is a retired professor of English and Humanities. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology. To read more of Dan’s work, click here.