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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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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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