IN THE ASKING, THE QUESTION COMES
READ: Matthew 20:29-34
“As Jesus and his disciples left Jericho, a large crowd followed them. They came upon two blind men sitting by the side of the road. When the men heard that it was Jesus who was passing by, they began to shout, ‘Lord! Have mercy of us, son of David.’ The crowd tried to quiet the men down, but the men only shouted all the louder. So Jesus stopped and went them over to Him and then said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ They answered, ‘Lord, let us have our sight back.’ Jesus felt pity for them and touched their eyes, and at once their vision returned and they began to follow Jesus.” – Matthew 20:29-34
‘Tis a haunting question that Jesus asks of the blind men, “What do you want Me to do for you?” You would think that Jesus knew what the men wanted, so why ask the question? Because that question asked of those two blind men, .. is also and always asked of each of us who call out to Christ. We cry out, “Lord, have mercy!” And the Spirit of the Lord answers, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
The last time I went to my doctor, he asked me the same question in nearly the same words. “Sir, what do you need from me today?” Being that it was a routine check-up for my diabetes, I stammered a bit with how I was to answer. So I said, “Just checking in.” So we went quickly through the check-up, I coughed a few times, listened to my good health habits lecture, paid my co-pay, set my next appointment and headed home. After arriving home, my loving wife inquired if I had remembered to ask the doctor about this pain and that problem, this symptom and that prescription’s side effects. I hadn’t. Then she said, “Well, how is the doctor suppose to know what you need?” I shrugged a silent no-response response, while within my mind I was thinking, “Well, he’s the doctor, he should know what I need without me telling him!”
Why did Jesus ask a question of two blind men when the answer was so obvious? Because too often we really don’t know ourselves – at least, clearly – what we need from God. And in our not knowing our own need, we fail to know our own humanity and how our humanity interacts with God’s divinity.
As I have mentioned at other times, we have a blind Brother who lives here at Greyfriars’ Abbey, a man of such sensitivity of awareness and such gentleness of spirit. I wish he could see his own gracious smile and how much just in smiling God’s glory is bestowed. For the most part he has the Cloister and the Abbey grounds well-memorized, each path is etched on an inner map within his mind, the layout of each room is somehow recorded in his memory, yet now and then, when special events are not taking place in their typical pattern, when the Cloister is filled with visitors, he can lose his orientation. But I am so intrigued by his solution for his “lost-ness“. He doesn’t wander about trying to run into something familiar. He doesn’t try to guess which way he should go. He simply stands still where he is and calls out … “Is there a Brother near?” And he waits, quietly calling out until eventually a Brother answers his call and draws near. Then our blind Brother simply asks for us to share our vision of where he is. And thus knowing where he is,, he then can journey on to where he needs to go.
Each day during my time of contemplative prayer, I find the Spirit of the Lord asking me this question, “Brother Anthony, where are you in this moment of time? Do you know just where you are? Do you know where you need to go from here? Do you really know what is going on within your heart and mind? Do you truly know what you need from Me?” Usually I begin by offering that shrug of silence. But the Spirit of the Lord keeps asking, waiting me out … until the answer eventually comes forth from within me.
In the asking, in the asking over and over again, … we slowly begin to learn what questions are truly needing to be asked, we slowly begin to learn what it is … that we truly, actually, really need from the Lord.
Brother Anthony of the Cross