33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Monday (Year II)
As Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening.
Noisy chatter, footsteps and commotion roused the blind man to seek the source of the unusual excitement. Color, light, depth, height and width were utterly beyond his reach, but his ears heightened with anticipation.
They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
Yeshua of Naṣrath! The blind man jumped to attention upon hearing the holy name.
He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
Reports of Jesus’ healing power had circulated all over Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem (Luke 4:14, 37; 5:17). A whole world of meaning and feeling elusive to readers removed from first-century Israel was conjured up by the Messianic title, Son of David. Its political connotations are well known, but scholars debate whether pre-Christian Judaism linked the title with miraculous healing power.1
The Gospel of Luke had already introduced Jesus as “the Son of the Most High” who will occupy “the throne of David” (Luke 1:27, 32; 2:4). The religious consciousness of first-century Judaism cannot be pinned down; however, it is certain that the sick and suffering knew instinctively that Jesus, the Son of David, cared for them and could be relied upon for help. The blind man’s initial “shout” was an intense cry, an urgent call in distress (boaó).
The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”
The man’s cries were so clamorous that people tried to silence him, but instead his shout intensified into piercing, animalistic screams (krazó, an onomatopoetic term for a raven’s “caw” or croak).
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The agonizing, pitiable cries of the blind man moved Jesus’ heart with compassion. In a large crowd of people, all of his attention fixed upon his brother with the desire to relieve his suffering.
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”
He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.
A new disciple and follower of Christ was immediately born.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
1 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to Luke (X-XXIV), Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1985, p. 1216.