As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." Then he shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He said, "Lord, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has saved you." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.
Jesus is on the final stage of his fateful journey to Jerusalem, where, as he predicted, he would meet a cruel death. But there are two encouraging moments along the way. He meets a blind beggar whose faith shines brightly; and he meets Zacchaeus (tomorrow’s reading).
The blind beggar stands in the strongest contrast to the rich ruler earlier in chapter 18. The beggar is physically blind but spiritually sighted, while the rich ruler is physically sighted but spiritually blind.
Earlier in chapter 18, people were bringing children to Jesus, but the disciples ordered them off. Jesus intervened. "Let the little children come to me and do not stop them,” he said, “for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (verse 16). It is “such as these” who see deeply. The adult mind is often blinded by its own very light. This is easily seen today, when we so often identify faith with explanations and declarations and clarifications… all adding up to a kind of bleak rationalism. Far from moving mountains it can hardly move itself, so turgid and wordy it seems at times. What child could follow it? But there is something in a child’s way of seeing that is the key to the kingdom of God. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,” wrote de Saint-Exupéry, in the voice of the little prince. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
I remember reading two works that were written around 1910, one of them from the head, the other from the heart. (No need to elaborate further here.) The one written from the head made great pretensions to being timeless and universal, the other made no such pretensions at all. But strangely, after a hundred years, the ‘head’ document is utterly dated and obsolete; while the other is as fresh as when it was written. I suspect that it will still be fresh centuries from now, and perhaps forever. The heart may seem very local and limited, very private and shy – it may even seem blind – but it touches the heart of the whole world and all ages. Our faith goes even further: it tells us our heart can touch the heart of God.
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