After losing an important battle, King Louis XIV of France complained, “Has God forgotten how much I’ve done for him?” That’s a deeply arrogant statement! But let’s not cast any stones. It’s easy to conclude that God owes us something.
That’s what James and John did in yesterday’s gospel. Because they were disciples, they assumed they were entitled to special favors, and approached Jesus with a demand: “We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
In today’s gospel, Bartimaeus also approached Jesus. But he didn’t make any demands. Instead, he offered a humble plea: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.”
These two different approaches were met with two different responses from Jesus. James and John’s request was denied, and Jesus actually took them down a notch. But Bartimaeus’ prayer was granted. His sight was restored, and he was praised for his faith.
Maybe it’s significant that Bartimaeus is described as a beggar. As St. Augustine wrote, “Man is a beggar before God,” because it’s as a beggar that we should approach God in prayer. If our prayer is “Give me what I deserve,” we’ll likely wind up disappointed. But if we pray, “O Lord, please give me what I need,” we’ll find, like Bartimaeus, that God always does.
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/nab/030311.shtml