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Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar Near Jericho
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and ordered the man 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 see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.
Jesus said: Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.
It is often said that losing one’s hearing is worse than losing one’s sight. This argument is predicated on the belief that one’s sense of hearing is enhanced as it strives to compensate for the loss of sight. Whether this is true or not, many of us will struggle to imagine what it means to be deprived of any of our five senses. Some of us will recall one of the side-effects of the Covid 19 virus … temporary loss of smell and taste. Suddenly, those who were afflicted in this way, had to think about such fundamental issues as the purpose of eating. What was the point of preparing an appetising meal if it was reduced to a bland collation of ingredients? For the majority of us, the loss of our eyesight must seem to leave us in a similar place. How can we enjoy the wonders of God’s creation if we cannot see it in all its glory?
In today’s reading we hear of a blind beggar sitting by the roadside. We do not know whether the man was born blind, or whether he lost his eyesight later in life. We also do not know what spurred him on to cry out: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! But that is what happened.
The blind man’s disability would have rendered him an outcast in Jesus’ time. His inability to work and engage with the rest of society in a ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ way was probably that which reduced him to having to beg by the roadside. But, as he sat by the roadside, reliant on the generosity of others, he must have heard so much. As an outcast he would have been unseen by the majority. But, he would have heard them speaking of Jesus, the one who could work miracles of healing.
We do not know how long the blind beggar had spent thinking about Jesus and his wonderful gift for healing the incurable. As today’s reading comes some way into the gospel narrative, it could have been for some time. Such a level of analysis is a distraction, however. The point is that the blind beggar had faith that Jesus could heal him, and that that faith was recognised and rewarded as the Son of God passed by on that fateful day.
Too often we are afflicted with a level of spiritual blindness that separates us from our loving God. Too often we try to explain away the wondrous actions of Jesus in nonsensical human terms. Too often we ignore the rumour of the healing and joy that come from God alone. Let us pray that we might find the strength and the wisdom to call out to Jesus, who is ever by our side, and ask him to have mercy on us. Let us pray that we might have that tiny seed of faith that will cause him to say: Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.