This passage from Luke’s Gospel places us on the Road to Jericho, which is about twenty miles from Jerusalem. It is a very narrow and rocky road which was difficult to maneuver. It is also the refuge for bandits and thieves who use it to vandalize their victims. This episode also reminds us of the Good Samaritan and his victim. Frequently, people would line the road begging for alms, food, handouts. On this occasion there was a man who was afflicted with blindness. He heard the commotion and asked what was happening. He was told “It is Jesus of Nazareth passing by. So he cried out “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me.” Again, he shouted out the louder “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus asked him “What would you have me do for you?” He replied, “Lord that I might see.” Jesus responded, “Be healed your faith has made you well.” He received his sight and followed Jesus.
The first thing that strikes one is that it is often in the most difficult and cluttered situations that we can sense the presence of God. We have to stand our ground and cry out “Son of David” have pity on me.” When we are told to be quiet, God has more important things to worry about. There are others who are more deserving of the “pity and compassion” of God. The gospel assures us our cries and needs are heard by a listening God. We just have to have courage, faith and persistence.
It is striking that what the man with blindness asks for is not eyesight. He asks for mercy. He asks for compassion and then asks to be healed. In Luke’s gospel the author tells us another healing. It is the parable of the ten men with leprosy. They are healed because of their faith. However, they were told to present themselves to a priest. After this one a Samaritan, a foreigner returns to thank Jesus for the miracle. Jesus asked “weren’t ten healed? Go your faith has saved you.” One thing Luke tells us is that gratitude is the surest measure of our character. Let us give thanks.
Fr. Ken O’Malley, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community at Sacred Heart Monastery in Louisville, Kentucky.