30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

There are several levels or ways in which any given Scripture passage can be taken.  The most basic level is the literal, or historical meaning.  The Second Vatican Council tells us that the Gospels faithfully teach us what Jesus actually did and said.  In today’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus healed a blind man.  This really happened.  Jesus made a blind man see.  The healing of the blind man was good, not only for the blind man, but also for the people who witnessed the miracle and for us today.  The Blind man received his sight; and the miracle was, for the crowds and for us, a proof of Jesus’ divinity.

There is also a moral sense to Scripture.  Scripture can teach us how to live, and it can teach us how to pray.  It is important to remember that even though Scripture was written a thousand years ago, or more, it is still relevant for us today. Scripture is the inspired Word of God; that is why it can continue to instruct, inspire and speak to us all these many centuries later.  This encounter between Jesus and the blind man in today’s Gospel can teach us many things.

First of all, we learn of the importance of faith.  The blind man must have had some level of knowledge about Who Jesus IS and at least some faith that Jesus could and would do something for him; otherwise he wouldn’t have been calling out.  He must have been told about Jesus.  Perhaps someone in the crowd told the man that Jesus had been performing miracles and healing people.  Perhaps someone in the crowd told the man that this was the long awaited Messiah, the promised King, Who would rule on the throne of David forever.

At the very least, the man knew something about Jesus and had some level of faith that Jesus could heal him.  He must have heard about Jesus from someone.  Saint Paul tells us that faith comes from hearing.  It is important that we share our faith with others.  Saint Peter tells us that we are to be ready to give others a reason for the hope that is within us.  We should not be ashamed to tell others of the great things that our God has done for us.  If no one had told the blind man in today’s Gospel about Jesus Christ, he never would have called out to Jesus; he never would have been healed.

Someone did tell the blind man about Jesus, and the blind man cried out to the Lord.  He persevered in his prayer, even when it seemed that the Lord had passed him by, even when the crowd was telling him to be quiet.  There are several passages in Scripture that tell us of the importance of persevering in prayer.  Some people get discouraged if their prayers are not answered immediately, in precisely the way that they want them to be answered.  Praying is not like making a wish.  It isn’t magic.  The Lord wants us to pray, He wants us to ask Him for things, but we should not become discouraged if it seems that the Lord has passed us by.  We should continue to persevere in our prayer.

The blind man’s perseverance paid off and Jesus stopped and had the man called.  Jesus waited for the man to come to Him.  When the man was called he threw aside his cloak and he leaped up.  We too should cast aside anything that keeps us from coming to the Lord.  The biggest thing that keeps many from making progress in the spiritual life is attachment to sin.  Some of the great spiritual writers tell us that it is impossible to make real progress in the spiritual life without uprooting attachment to sin.  Sin and God are completely and radically opposed to one another.  That is why Jesus tells us that if our eye causes us to sin to pluck it out.  He isn’t speaking literally, of course, but it does make the point very clearly: we need to avoid sin.

When the blind man comes to Jesus, the Lord asks him: “What do you want me to do for you?”  It isn’t that Jesus doesn’t know what the man’s needs are.  This is the same Jesus Who knows the thoughts of the Pharisees hearts as they murmur within themselves against Him.  He wants the man to ask.  God knows what we need better than we do.  He wants us to bring to Him all our wants and needs.  He wants us to bring to Him everything that is on our hearts.  Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock.  Praying for our needs helps us to remember that we rely upon God.  If God did everything for us without our asking, we might begin to think that we did everything on our own.  Apart from God, we can do nothing.  But through Him all things are possible.

After He heals the blind man, Jesus tells him to go on his way.  The man is so grateful for his healing that he follows Jesus, Who IS the Way.  We, too, should be grateful for all that God has done for us.  Everything that we have that is good comes from the hand of God.  Our gratitude for all the good that God has given to us should inspire us to more faithfully follow the Lord.

A final thing that we can learn from this Gospel passage is how we are to act in regard to others.  We should never allow ourselves to become an obstacle between others and Jesus.  How can we become an obstacle?  Bad example is one way that we sometimes discourage others.  If others know that we are Christians, and we don’t live up to our calling as Christians, others can become scandalized.  Now, we are all sinners; we all fall short of the glory of God.  The important thing is that we try to live our faith.  When we fall, we come to confession; we ask for mercy.  But we should be aware that others could either be inspired or discouraged by our example.  It is good to sometimes ask ourselves: “What type of example am I setting for others around me in the workplace, or at school, or at home?”  We should do what we can to set a good example: in our speech and in our actions.  In this way, we can help others come to Jesus.

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