Daily Reflection
November 15th, 2004
Luis Rodriguez, S.J.
Chaplain, Creighton University Medical Center
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

As 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 following Jesus.

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.

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