The Bold Faith of the Blind man

The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 18:35-43

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  The Lord hears the blind man crying out to him and he doesn’t ignore his cries for help.  He doesn’t try to silence him the way that the multitudes gathered there had tried to silence him.  The Lord is always surprising us with His love.  He stops what He is doing and replies to the blind man “What do you want me to do for you?”

“What do you want me to do for you?”  These are really comforting words and we can only imagine the hope that the blind man felt when he was asked this question.  The question however is not simply for the blind man.  The Lord approaches each one of us with the same generous care.  He comes to us in our needs and asks “What do you want me to do for you?”

In the case of the blind man, it is the physical illness that needs to be healed, his physical sight needs to be recovered.  However, more often than not our biggest issues are not physical illnesses, but spiritual illnesses, even spiritual blindness.  How are we spiritually blind?  We are often blind to the amazing work that God is trying to do in the world around us and even in our own lives.  We are blind and deaf to the teachings of Our Lord and His Church.  We are often much worse off than the blind man because the blind man at least knew how to cry out to Our Lord Jesus for help.  We are often not able or not willing to do that.

The blind man never physically saw Jesus or any of the miracles He performed.  He only heard and trusted.  He had a belief in something he had never actually seen, that is the definition of faith and his faith was bold.  We also have never seen the Lord Jesus personally.  We hear about Him primarily through the words of others.  We have some faith, but how much do we really have?  Do you believe that the Lord is addressing you personally when He asks “What do you want me to do for you?”  Do you believe that the Lord is able to work in your life?  Deep down we are struggling.  We are sometimes hurting, we are wounded, we are fragile, we are full of sin and doubt.  We sense that we need to be healed.  Do we ever approach Jesus Christ with confidence that He actually wants to help us?  Do we ever take a moment to reflect on the kind of love and mercy that the Lord is constantly trying to show us?  Of all the things that we pray to God about, how many of those prayers actually address our root problems, our sins and our spirit of rebellion?  We ask for small problems to be resolved but what about our bigger issues, the issues of the heart?

Is it possible that spiritual blindness is making it hard for us to see our sins?  Sometimes we don’t ask to be healed because we don’t truly understand how frail and weak and sinful we are.  Sometimes we don’t ask to be healed because we don’t think that there is a possibility for healing.  The blind man could not see Jesus but he had heard about Him.  The best way to address our own frailty and weakness is to learn from this blessed blind man.  He listened to the reports that were spread by others.  He didn’t trust his own experience or his own wisdom.  He trusted the witness and the experience of those around him.

In many ways we are asked to do this in the life of the Church.  We trust the reports of the gospels and the New Testament.  We trust the Apostles and Fathers and saints who have experienced the life of grace.  We trust the guidance and the wisdom of the total experience of the Church.  You have a sin or a particular weakness, no worries, the Church has experience and wisdom and medicine to help you through it.  This is only natural when you come to realize that the Church really is the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is His body and it continues working His works of mercy and healing for all who come and imitate the blind man.  He is a man of faith, he doesn’t have to say much but the words that he says, the words that he cries from the depths of his heart are enough to compel the Lord of the universe to be moved with compassion.  His words are simple and we would do well to memorize them “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

You notice that they are the words of the Church in all of her services “Lord have mercy!”  We are constantly crying out to the Lord and begging for His mercy.  The Church is training us to learn how to address the Master of creation.  I once went to visit a chaplain on a college campus and he had a giant poster in his office that read “Jesus is my homeboy.”  This is the way that the Lord who suffered shame and punishment for our sakes is addressed among some of the so-called Christians!  Where would we be without his mercy?

So we need to address the Lord properly and from the depths of the heart we have to ask for mercy.  And when the Lord replies “What do you want me to do for you?”  We have to have bold faith to ask for exactly what it is that we need.  Some need their marriages to be healed.  Some of us need emotional or mental healing.  Some of us need to break addictions.  All of us need to grow in repentance.  All of us need to grow in wisdom.  All of us need to grow in love for God and our neighbor.  All of us need to grow in holiness.  If you actually desire these things that are good, is there any doubt that the Lord will offer you relief and healing?  Is there any doubt that we will hear the words of the Lord “Your faith has made you well”?

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