As Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to Him; and when he came near, He asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Luke 18: 35-43 (14th Sunday of Luke)
There are three Sunday Gospels each year that refer to the healing of a blind man. One is from John 9:1-38, the healing of a blind man who is instructed to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The second is from Matthew 9:27-35 when two blind men are healed. In Matthew’s account, two blind men followed Jesus asking for mercy. Jesus asked if they believed He was able to heal them. Jesus told them to tell no one what had happened, but they went away and spread the word about Jesus.
In today’s Gospel account, we encounter one blind man, sitting at the roadside begging. He didn’t know who Jesus was but rather inquired who He was. When told that this was Jesus of Nazareth, the man cried out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” We aren’t told if the man “knew of Jesus” and hearing that this was Him, made him cry out, or if he was hearing about Jesus for the first time, and grew faith in an instant.
Unlike the other blind men who were healed, this blind man is rebuked the by crowds and told to be silent. Not only does he have to put faith in a man he doesn’t see and doesn’t know, he has to fight off an impatient crowd. He cried so loud that it caught Jesus’ attention. Jesus asked that the man be brought to Him. Jesus asked him “What do you want Me to do for you?” The man answered “Lord, let me receive my sight.” Then Jesus restored the man’s sight to him. The man followed Jesus, glorifying God, and all the people who witnessed it, also gave praise to God.
As we reflect on today’s Gospel, these are the thoughts that come to mind. First, do we recognize a level of spiritual blindness in ourselves? Are we humble enough to realize that in our sinful state we cannot see Christ as clearly as we could? Secondly, are we content to live in a state of spiritual blindness or are we interested in healing? Do we know Christ and have we studied Scripture to understand who Christ is and how healing can come from Him and only from Him? Third, do we cry out to Jesus in prayer? Many people pray without any fervor, they go through the motions, they check boxes. When we pray, we should “cry out” to Jesus as the man in the Gospel, asking for mercy and for healing, because recognize that we need both and that both come from Jesus.
Fourth, are we willing to shout over the noise of the crowd? The “crowd”, the noise of the world, seeks to silence the voices of those who cry out to Jesus. Are we willing to go up against the crowd in order to get to Christ? And finally, when we receive lightening of our spiritual blindness, which comes through prayer and the grace of God imparted through the sacraments, what is our response? Do we follow with greater fervor? Do we glorify God? Do we inspire others to do the same?
The story of the healing of the blind man is the story of all of us. We light candles when we come into church each Sunday, asking that the Light of Christ again open our eyes and heal our spiritual blindness. We pray before reading the scripture that the eyes of our minds may be open to comprehend the message of the Gospel. We are continually asking for and are being granted healing. What, then, is our response? It should be continually glorifying God, and following Him.
To be sure, I have moments of spiritual blindness (sin, doubt) but I also have moments of spiritual clarity (during prayer, receiving grace through confession and Communion). The clarity comes with a cry to Jesus (prayer) and an awareness that I need healing (humility). I become blind again through sin. But I keep my sight through love, good works and continual grace, which comes through continual prayer and frequent participation in the sacraments of the Church.
We glorify Your divine condescension, and we sing Your praise, O Christ. You were born of a Virgin, and from the Father You remained inseparable. You suffered as a man and voluntarily endured the Cross. As one emerging from a bridal chamber, You rose from the sepulcher, in order to save the world. Glory to You, O Lord. (Fourth Resurrectional Praise, 1st Tone, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Cry for healing and accept grace through prayer. Glorify God today and throughout your life!