The physical setting of this story is also significant. While Jesus and his followers are traveling toward their next destination, Bartimaeus is simply sitting on the side of the road, stuck, held back from moving forward. He is held back both by his blindness and also by society's non-response to his blindness.
The first time I read this story, this question seemed insensitive. It would not have been difficult to identify the beggar's physical challenge, and yet Jesus still asks Bartimaeus to name what he wants. I now interpret this as the most sensitive part of the passage. Instead of automatically addressing the label which society had placed upon Bartimaeus, Jesus took time to ask what Bartimaeus wanted for himself.
The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Blindness befalls us in many ways. We can become physically blind, or things can intrude upon our lives that prevent us from clearly seeing truth. Wealth, denial, power, privilege, an unhealthy relationship, and addiction can all blind us to the way of life.
As we looked at the veiled crosses and ornaments in our church, let us continue to use our Lenten acts of discipline to remove the blindness to the ways of life surrounding us and remain open to the question Jesus still presents "What do you want me to do for you?"
Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes