Today’s Gospel (Luke 18:35-43) gives an account of Jesus meeting a blind man while on the road to Jericho. Called out by this marginal figure, a disabled person in the precarious times of First-Century Palestine, Jesus is beckoned by the man whose very right to engage the Christ is refused by the Lord’s own followers. “The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me!'”
Despite the socialized discrimination at work in the tussle between the followers of Jesus and the blind man, Jesus hears his cries. Rather than go to him, Jesus invites the blind man to be brought to him by the same followers who moments earlier dismissed the blind man and sought to silence his cries. Those who stood in the way have been called to be mediators of healing. Jesus does not operate according to the logic of those around him, does not succumb to the social pressure to keep on walking.
He stops. He asks. He listens.
The miracle that unfolds is simple and the narrative recounting it is unimpressive.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”
The man’s faith, exhibited by his persistence despite opposition, is what seems to be the cause of his healing. But what might this passage say to us?
It seems that there are two lessons that we might consider today from this Gospel passage. The first is that, like the blind man, our sight will only be opened and cleared by our faith. In other words, the blindness we have toward the injustice around us, the discrimination we witness, the bias we harbor, the prejudice we embrace needs to be healed and our faith in the God whose love and mercy we see exhibited in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is what brings about that healing.
The second lesson is that we must not resign ourselves to the normalized hatred, discrimination, or mere apathy of Jesus’s followers in today’s Gospel. They appear to have become blind themselves, blind to the needs of those right before them. Furthermore, they seem to have taken social clues about who has the right to approach Jesus and therefore take it upon themselves to stand in the blind man’s way.
We live in a time in which we can be tempted to normalize hatred and discrimination, to resign ourselves to a social current that has buoyed overt racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and so many other modes of injustice. Our faith calls us to see with open eyes and reject the blindness of fear that stands in the way of relationship and healing, just as Jesus’s followers stood in the way of him and the blind man.
May we see with eyes of faith.