Luke presents to us the scene of today’s gospel, we can easily recognize
three characters on stage: two individual actors —Jesus and the blind man—
and one collective actor —“the people walking in front.” I would like
to look at them separately.
The blind man has clearly owned his problem. He is beyond denial, if indeed
he ever was in denial, and that frees him to ask for help from a healer he
must have known from hearing others tell stories. He also had a clear desire
in his heart: to be able to see. So, when those with Jesus try to silence
him, he will have none of that and, instead, he shouts all the louder. More
importantly he had trust both in Jesus’ power to heal him and in his compassionate
heart. We can all learn from his threefold attitude: honesty about his need,
a clear desire to be healed and that twofold trust.
The collective actor’s behavior should give us pause for some sobering reflection.
They act out to perfection the me-and-Jesus syndrome: “Don’t bother me, can’t
you see that I am busy following Jesus?” Fortunately, if we read beyond Luke
and open Mark’s parallel passage [10:46-52], we are relieved to learn that
their narrow response was only an unreflected first reaction, a “gut reaction.”
As soon as Jesus tells them “Call him here,” they make a 180º turn:
“Courage, get up, he is calling you.” But their initial reaction can
be a caution flag and an invitation for us to examine our own attitudes in
As usual, of course, the third actor is the bright spot in that encounter.
Jesus does not dwell in reproaching the selfish reaction of his followers
or lecturing them about it, he simply shows them how it is done right: “Call
him here” — example is so much more persuasive than lectures. But he also
asks the blind man to name his need and desire before he heals him. Our own
prayer of petition is not intended as a vehicle to inform God about our need
and desire already known to God, but as an occasion for us to own both our
deepest need/desire and our radical self-insufficiency to meet that deepest
need and to implement that deepest desire.