In my final reflection on Mark’s healing stories, I want to focus on Jesus’ question to Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” The fact that Jesus healed his blindness, responding both to his physical condition and the reality of his social location as an outcast, most likely blamed for his disease, is important, but perhaps more important is Jesus’ willingness to let us dictate the terms of our healing. Jesus’ question isn’t accidental. He is asking Bartimaeus what he really wants out of life. He is inviting him to explore his reasons for seeking Jesus’ help. While the answer, “I want to see,” might seem obvious, Bartimaeus needs to proclaim it for his own sake. After all, many people claim to want to get well or be free of an addiction and do nothing to overcome their problems. Such persons aren’t to be blamed, but their refusal to do what is necessary for new life can block the healing energy God intends for them.
Perhaps, God is asking each one of us, “What do you want me to do for you?” As we reflect on this question, we are invited to explore the deepest desires of our hearts and what we are willing to achieve them. God wants you to have abundant life; God wants everyone to have abundant life. But, we need to answer God’s call to bring new energies and possibilities into play.
The healing stories invite us to be God’s partners in our own healing and the healing of the earth, individually and corporately. What do we really want? We say we want a green planet, but does our lifestyle reflect a commitment to healing the earth? We say we want well educated children but do we spend time nurturing children and seeking the best resources for their education, including our tax dollars? We say we want to be healthy but do we practice a healthy lifestyle?
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, healing companion, retreat leader and lecturer, and author of nineteen books, including Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living; God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus; and Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry. He has taught at Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is currently theologian in residence at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His most recent book Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed will be released in May 2011. He can be reached for lectures, seminars, and retreats at firstname.lastname@example.org