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Bible Reflections View Comments

What Do We Really Want?
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
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In today’s Gospel, when Jesus encounters the blind beggar Bartimaeus, he asks him the question he asks nearly everyone he meets: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus answers unhesitatingly: “I want to see.”

How often are we this clear on what we want? It’s difficult to have such a single-hearted focus on our needs and desires. Even in the secular world, people who are driven by a single goal stand out from the crowd. Most of us go through the day chasing one distraction after another. It’s so common we even have a shorthand term for it: “Shiny new!”

In the passage that comes immediately before this one in Mark’s Gospel, James and John were asking Jesus for places of glory at his right and left when he came into his kingdom. We might say that they were quite sure of what they wanted. But Jesus did not—could not—grant their request. It might be what they wanted, but it was not what they needed.

We might rattle off a list of things that we want or think we need, but we know most of them to be too petty or materialistic to ask Jesus to get them for us. Even though we joke about praying to win the lottery, by the time we’re adults we know at least on some level that God isn’t like Santa Claus or a genie in a bottle. But do we go too far and also discount God’s promise to give us life to the full?

Sometimes the problem is that we settle for what we have. We’re content with the status quo. We’re not willing to do what it takes to make a change, no matter how much that change will move us closer to our dreams and our deepest desires. Going after what we really want can be risky. We’re afraid to try because we’re afraid to fail.

Even if we do know what we want but we let other people’s expectations keep us from even letting ourselves admit it. The crowds around the blind beggar in the Gospel try to keep him from crying out to Jesus. But he only called all the louder. When we know what we want, we need to work toward that goal even though other people find our focus annoying, even disturbing. It’s a hard lesson to learn that others don’t always want—or even know—what’s best for us.

If Jesus said to you today, “What do you want me to do for you?” what would you answer? Have you taken time lately to ask yourself what your deepest, most genuine desires are? When we’re sick, when we’re genuinely hungry, when we desperately need sleep, we become very focused on what it is that we need. But what about when those needs are met, when we are well and well-fed? What is our driving passion then? What are our dreams?

Mark tells us that once the beggar’s sight was restored, he immediately followed Jesus up the road. Being given his physical sight also gave him the spiritual insight he needed to become a disciple of Jesus. At the heart of discipleship is a focus on Jesus that keeps us moving with him down the road. Jesus made clear that the journey would be hard and that the cross stands at the end of it. But he promised that it would be worth the struggle.

We need to discover what we most need, to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. For the blind beggar, it was his sight. What is it for you?


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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but she oon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p>
American Catholic Blog Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.

 
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