The last event in Mark 10 is the healing of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar. Learning that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he began to shout and beg for mercy. He was not to be silenced, and Jesus called him to come forward. Interestingly, Jesus does not presume what he wants, even though it was evident that he was blind. He simply inquires, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bartimaeus articulates his request: “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus commends his faith for its healing power and, having regained sight, becomes a disciple. He “followed him on the way” (10:52) and helps galvanize the faith of disbelieving others as Jesus journeys toward Jerusalem.
I wonder how we might respond if Jesus put such a question to us? Do we know what we most need? Can we articulate our need for reorientation in life and death? The clarity of our answer determines the trajectory of our lives.
I attended the memorial service of a long time friend and colleague on Monday in Waco, Texas. I first met Diana Richmond (Garland) in college at Oklahoma Baptist University in 1968. She was a serious student; I was not. She was a city girl; I was not. She exuded maturity beyond her years; I was more into mischief than maturity. I remember her typing David’s papers, a rare kindness in my estimation—especially since he was a philosophy major!
They married and went off to Southern Seminary, and I caught up with them a few years later when I became a Master of Divinity student. Then we became teaching colleagues, and Diana’s excellence as a scholar and adept leader inspired me to strive harder.
She was able to see clearly, and her vision for the integration of Christian faith and the best social work practices is an enduring legacy. Her impact on generations of students is remarkable, and the world is better because of her relentless challenge to systems that marginalize the poor, children, and those without educational privilege.
Diana died too young, and she left a long “to do” list for her colleagues at the School of Social Work at Baylor, recently named for her. As we gathered to honor her in remembrance, sing our faith, and accompany her family, we gave thanks for her extraordinary capacity to see a more hopeful future for those whose circumstances make life harder.
In my imagination, Diana answered Jesus’ question “what do you want me to do for you?” with a resounding, “I want you to help me prepare women and men to embody the Gospel for the least of these.” Jesus surely answered her request, and all who knew her bear witness to the grace of her life.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.