NOVEMBER 15. Ord Time B. Wk 33. Mon. Lk 18. 35-43
As Jesus drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Sir,’ he replied ‘let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.’ And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God for what had happened.
Blind people have to live in darkness, but Jesus came to bring light into the world and what we see in the blind man calling out to the Son of God is his strong desire to see light. If only the many people who live in the world without faith would have the same desire to be cured of their spiritual blindness?
In many ways this condition, or absence of strong faith, is a far worse condition than physical blindness, as the blind man can still have a deep faith; - something the man in today’s Gospel appears to possess?
“He called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! – whereas many who are spiritually blind and without faith have little desire to cure their blindness; - in fact they are often totally unaware of how serious a condition spiritual blindness is; - or the danger it presents to their eternal life.
Interestingly, blindness is one of the major conditions Jesus dealt with during his time on earth, indicating how common the condition was of having no faith among the people of his time. One of the major reasons for his becoming man and living with us was to rectify the issue of spiritual blindness and lack of faith; - one of his primary goals being to enable people to “see!”
The blind man’s calling out must surely be seen as a form of prayer; - the calling out of the soul to his creator and praying for his blessing. He could not have called out in this way unless he had first possessed a deep faith that this man, who was briefly passing by, had the ability to cure his condition.
Note how this person was not only blind; - but also poor, as he was sitting by the side of the road begging for his needs. And how poor those people are who lack the gift of Faith; - they do not have the means to know God, or to access the many gifts he bestowed on his people, to assist them to access eternal life.
Gifts that sustain our spiritual life and guide us on our pilgrimage, with prayer and sacrament being the two that stand out. What a treasure those who have faith have been given, and yet so many of them fail to realise the value of these gifts?
The blind man in today’s reading is providing us with many lessons; - he recognises the moment in his life when “Christ is passing by” and, as a result of his Faith, he pursues this opportunity. He also acknowledges his sins, calling out for mercy; - and in doing so bears witness, in front of others, to his faith in God’s merciful love; - lessons all Christians need to heed and emulate. Do we act decisively when we become aware ‘Christ is passing by?’
Gospel Acclamation Jn8:12
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
First reading 1 Maccabees 1:10-15,41-43,54-57,62-64
The persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes
There grew a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus; once a hostage in Rome, he became king in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks. It was then that there emerged from Israel a set of renegades who led many people astray. ‘Come,’ they said ‘let us reach an understanding with the pagans surrounding us, for since we separated ourselves from them many misfortunes have overtaken us.’ This proposal proved acceptable, and a number of the people eagerly approached the king, who authorised them to practise the pagan observances. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, such as the pagans have, disguised their circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant, submitting to the heathen rule as willing slaves of impiety.
Then the king issued a proclamation to his whole kingdom that all were to become a single people, each renouncing his particular customs. All the pagans conformed to the king’s decree, and many Israelites chose to accept his religion, sacrificing to idols and profaning the sabbath. The king erected the abomination of desolation above the altar; and altars were built in the surrounding towns of Judah and incense offered at the doors of houses and in the streets. Any books of the Law that came to light were torn up and burned. Whenever anyone was discovered possessing a copy of the covenant or practising the Law, the king’s decree sentenced him to death.
Yet there were many in Israel who stood firm and found the courage to refuse unclean food. They chose death rather than contamination by such fare or profanation of the holy covenant, and they were executed. It was a dreadful wrath that visited Israel.