We continue in the lectionary this week in the Gospel attributed to Mark. There we hear the story of Jesus and Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus is a blind man who was sitting on the side of the road begging. When Jesus came by he called out to Jesus calling for mercy, despite others telling him to be quiet. In this gospel we see Jesus stop and tell his disciples to let him approach. When Bartimaeus comes over Jesus asks “what do you want me to do for you?”
We have a funny habit in our culture when we ask questions. Sometimes we ask questions that we don’t expect an answer to, sometimes we ask questions that we know the answer to, and sometimes we ask a question instead of giving direction – so it’s really not a question. For example – Husband, would you help me with the door please? (asked with hands and arms full of something) I may have asked… but I totally expect what I asked for!!
This is so commonplace, in an effort to be polite, it’s hard to know when one can say an honest no without being inconsiderate or rude. When this kind of interaction is so normal to us, are we really engaging with others? Are we truly seeing them for who they are, are just what they can do for us? (or just that they are there near us)
In today’s gospel story Jesus asks a question we might not. I think I would have assumed that clearly, the blind man wants to see. Yet, Jesus sees him, acknowledges his agency, asks, listens for the answer, and responds appropriately. No jumping steps.
I teach listening to children in an after school program. There are so many steps and they often want to skip some. “I AM listening!” They insist – yet they are fiddling with something in their hands and turned 90 degrees away from the tutor who is working with them. Nope.
Active listening is hard for us adults as well. We assess the situation, see the solution, and want to move forward without wasting time. If your question can be an email instead of a meeting – even better. Yet in our busy lives, we can over look the importance of truly engaging fully with those around us. Intentionally and authentically asking because we really do WANT to know, and not assuming. Hearing the answer and responding in a way that shows we heard – not dismissing or counteracting what they said.
This is love. Authentic love. Authentic relationship.
Let us follow in the steps of Jesus and do likewise.