Please, I want to see

This week in Luke’s Gospel, we hear the story of the man born blind.

There it is, the great and powerful question that Jesus asks us all: “What do you want me to do for you?”

On behalf of all of us, the man replied, “Please, I want to see.”

This reading always makes me chuckle. The man was blind. The people on the side of the streets knew it (they had to tell him what all the fuss along the road was about). My guess is the townspeople knew it. The man certainly knew he was blind. And Jesus likely knew it too.

Still, he asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I always imagined Peter, who struggled to understand so many things, slapping himself on the forehead at the question and then leaning in to whisper to Jesus, “Dude, he’s blind. You really had to ask?”

But yes, Jesus has to ask – for two reasons, I think.

First, in Jesus’ time, the sick were the way they were because of sin – the sin of the lame or of their parents. That’s how sickness was explained. The person who was sick or those who brought them into the world, must have done something wrong to deserve such animosity from a God that was sometimes very distant.

Jesus restores not just his sight, but his dignity. By addressing the man directly, he raises him up as an equal, treats him with respect, and shows the crowd how we are all to treat the ill.

The other reason is more simple. Then – as now – the question demands an answer.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Show you how to love? Check.

Show you how to forgive? Check.

Show you how to heal one another? Check.

Show you want it looks like to love hatred to death? Just watch.

The challenge for us is to answer the question Jesus poses so that in our blindness, we might come to see the presence of God in our midst.


This originally appeared on Patrick Donovan’s personal blog, Five Minutes on Monday.


Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay