Blind beggar’s story shows us persistence, loyalty

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Nov. 20.

In today’s Gospel we have the story of a blind beggar whose healing by Jesus has a lot to teach us as we gather to thank the Lord for his many blessings in our lives and to pray for our country in such troubled times.

Many of us have worries or difficult situations about which we pray and regarding which we may even be seeking a miracle. Well, notice what this man has to teach us in his request for a miracle from Jesus.

He knew this was his one chance and he wasn’t going to let anything hold him back. Not his pride, not what other people thought, not anything.

• Notice that this man knew exactly what he wanted: his sight. Too often all we bring to prayer is a vague attraction to Jesus and the warm feeling of peace that comes from spending an hour in the chapel in his presence — for instance during times of eucharistic adoration. Sometimes our prayer can feel like be little more than the dutiful fulfilling of a commitment.

But when we go to the doctor we always have a definite condition we want him to look at. When we see the dentist about a toothache, we want him to examine that particular tooth.

Well, shouldn’t it be the same between us and Jesus, who after all is the doctor of our soul? That’s why our time of prayer should begin with a few minutes of self-examination so that like this blind beggar, we too will know what we need to ask Jesus to take a look at and help us deal with in our lives. Indeed, what areas we need to bring to him for healing or what concerns we have about our country on this Thanksgiving Day.

Maybe our own blindness that we don’t even know about because we were blind to it until that moment of self-examination? Maybe the blindness of our leaders?

• Notice that this man had faith, even though his theology may have been a bit mistaken.

He called Jesus “Son of David,” which while it is a Messianic title, it referred to the kind of Messiah that was the polar opposite of how Jesus understood his messianic role. The Son of David was expected to be a military leader of David’s royal line who would lead the Jews victoriously in battle against the Roman occupation of their country.

But while the blind beggar’s expectations were off, he did have faith and this made up for his inadequate theology. And so also for us who turn to the Lord in thanksgiving. No one expects us all to be great theologians, but after all, as we see from today’s Gospel, we are saved by who we know, not by what we know. It is the response of our heart that matters.

• Notice this man’s persistence. He was not going to let anything get in the way of his desire for a life-changing encounter with Jesus. People kept trying to shut him up, but he just kept calling out to Jesus all the more.

This was not just some pious, sentimental wish for a nice spiritual experience. It was a desire born of desperation. He was determined to get to Jesus, determined to get things done. Is there something in your life that you need to bring to the Lord with persistence and determination?

• Notice this man’s immediate and complete response when Jesus responded to his cries. He knew this was his one chance and he wasn’t going to let anything hold him back. Not his pride, not what other people thought, not anything.

• Notice that he was a man of gratitude and loyalty. Having experienced God’s mercy, he began to follow Jesus, “giving glory to God.” He did not selfishly go his own way once his own needs were met. He went from need to gratitude to loyalty. And isn’t that a nice description of how we should respond to the Lord not only this Thanksgiving Day, but indeed every day of the year?

God grant that in bringing our needs to the Lord we too will draw on our faith, be persistent, respond completely and immediately to Jesus as we experience him present, and then filled with gratitude and thanksgiving, go forth to follow Jesus down the road, “giving glory to God.”

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