Monday of week 33 of Ordinary Time – Gospel


Commentary on Luke 18:35-43

Here we have Luke’s version of the story of the blind man, called by Mark Bar-Timaeus, the son of Timaeus.

In Mark the story is strategically placed at the end of a long teaching section where Jesus’ disciples are slowly deepening their understanding of Jesus and his mission. The story, full of symbols, sums up all that has gone before. It is like a mini-gospel (cf. reflection for Thursday of Week 8).

In Luke the story has also a very significant positioning. It falls between two other stories, both about rich people. One was a highly religious man who was not able to accept Jesus’ condition that he share his wealth with the poor before becoming a disciple. The other is about a man who supposedly was anything but religious and yet, after meeting Jesus, gives away a large proportion of his wealth to the poor. Which of these was really blind?

In addition, the first story of a rich man is followed by the third prediction of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, after which, says Luke, the disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about. “They failed to comprehend what he was saying.” They, too, are blind.

As the story opens, we are told that Jesus was approaching Jericho. Jericho was a very ancient city, located about 8 km west of the River Jordan and about 25 km north-east of Jerusalem. In Jesus’ time, Jericho of the Old Testament was largely abandoned but a new city, south of the old one, had been built by Herod the Great. It was the last main stop for Jesus before arriving in Jerusalem.

In Mark’s version Jesus is leaving Jericho but here Luke has Jesus approaching the city. Mark has Jesus leaving Jericho on the way to Jerusalem and his passion, and the blind man becomes his follower. Luke has Jesus going into and through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem because he wants to bring in Zacchaeus (a man whose eyes are opened by Jesus), a story not mentioned by either Mark or Matthew.

The story begins with a blind man sitting beside the road begging. (In Matthew’s rather bald account, there are actually two blind men, cf. Matt 20:29-34.) As we have mentioned before, the ‘road’ is the Way to Jerusalem on which all of Jesus’ disciples must walk together with him. When the beggar hears that Jesus is passing by he begins to call out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Son of David, have compassion on me!” By addressing Jesus as ‘Son of David’ he implies Jesus’ role as Messiah-King.

The people tell him to keep quiet. A useless beggar like him has no right disturbing the Master. But the man ignores them and keeps crying out. (In this he reminds us of the persistent widow we read about the other day.) Now Jesus stops. If the man had not kept calling out, Jesus might not have heard him and might have passed forever out of his life. How often does that happen to me?

Jesus orders the man to be brought to him. Again, it is always through other people that we come to know Jesus – and sometimes it will be through me, and only through me, that others will come to know him. I may be the only link that a person has with Jesus. Something to think about. On the other hand, I may be the one person who blocks someone approaching Jesus and his Way. We saw earlier what happens to those who are a ‘scandal’, a stumbling block to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks. It is a question that he keeps asking me. How do I answer? Have my answers changed over the years? Today let me reflect what I really want from him. And ask him for it.

Now listen to this man’s response to Jesus’ question: “Lord, please let me see.” Of course, one might think, it was a natural response from a person who was blind. But, in a wider sense, so is each one of us. We all need to see. It is our poor sight that prevents us from knowing Jesus and seeing where he wants us to go. We could hardly make a better request.

Jesus immediately responds: “Receive your sight. Your faith has made you well, has healed and made you whole.” If only we too had the faith that would help us to see clearly!

And what did the man do when he could see? He became a follower of Jesus and gave glory to God. No longer blind, no longer a beggar, no longer by the road but on the road with Jesus. On the road – and Jesus is the Road, the Way – to Jerusalem and all that it means. That is the natural response for those who can really see.

Just before this (we did not have this reading) the rich man who wanted “eternal life” was not able to see and so could not accept Jesus’ invitation but tomorrow we will meet someone who did have his eyes opened and responded generously.

The story also applies to Jesus’ disciples who gradually will have their eyes opened too and then they will understand why Jesus had to suffer and die on his way to glory. They will understand that it was the uttermost proof of God’s love for each one of us.

Comments Off on Monday of week 33 of Ordinary Time – Gospel


Printed from LivingSpace - part of Sacred Space
Copyright © 2017 Sacred Space :: www.sacredspace.ie :: All rights reserved.