daily biblical sermons


How Jesus transforms us when we put our faith in him and persistently cry out for what we need
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, 33rd Week of the Year, November 18, 2019
1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63, Psalm 118, Luke 18:35-43


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“As he [Jesus] drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ And he cried, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped, and commanded him 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 receive my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God” (Luke 18:35-43).

 

 

Today we see a blind beggar crying out to Jesus for help and mercy. First of all we notice how active this man is in seeking help. He doesn’t just lie in bed at home, waiting to be served, but rather goes out to a busy public street and sits down by the side of the road where many people will be passing by so that they can see his blindness and give him alms. And when he is told that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, whom he has surely heard of as a great miracle worker and healer, he cries out to him, calling him the Messiah, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38). This is a title of the longed for Messiah who would be the Son of David who would sit on David’s throne and establish a universal kingdom of peace on earth.

 

 

This blind man went to a lot of trouble to cry out to Jesus, for the people “rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Luke 18:39). Jesus heard his prayer, called him, and asked him what he wanted, and the man said he wanted to receive his sight. “And Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God” (Luke 18:42-43).

 

 

Jesus wanted the man to actually say what he needed. Jesus then immediately granted his request, and the man saw. Then the man didn’t just stay there or go home but became one of Jesus’ disciples. Nor did he just take his healing for granted, but he glorified God, that is, he thanked him profusely for the gift of his sight.

 

 

What can we learn from this incident in the life of Jesus? First of all we note that the man is quite active in seeking help in general by spending his days on a busy street, begging; not just sitting at home. And when he heard that Jesus was going by, he made something of a spectacle of himself by crying out to him, calling him the Messiah, so much so that the local people seem to be embarrassed in front of Jesus by their well-known beggar and try to shut him up.

 

 

If we want Jesus’ help, we need to do something similar. We have to actively seek him out and consciously and specifically ask him for what we need, and we have to believe that he will grant it to us. We need to have unshakable faith when we request something, and when we receive our request we should profusely thank him for it.

 

 

What do we need from Jesus? We need many different things all day long. We should specifically pray to God that he will grant us the small things of our ordinary daily life that we hope to receive from him, and we should request this consciously, explicitly, specifically and persistently, with unshakable faith that God will grant our request, for this blind man, after he was told to shut up, cried out all the louder and made all the greater scene, calling upon Jesus as the Son of David. We should be equally persistent and filled with faith in our prayers to the Lord.

 

 

In addition to all the various small details that we should pray for in the course of our day, above all we should pray that God will have mercy on us and justify us through our persistent and unshakable faith, because of what Christ did for us on the cross in atoning for our sins, making full reparation for them as our substitute, suffering our just punishment for them for us, in our place, instead of us, so that we will not have to suffer it. We should pray that God will reckon to us Christ’s own splendid righteousness so that we may shine not with our own man-made good deeds but with the righteousness which is the gift of God himself that comes to us through our faith in Christ, because of his atoning death for our sins on the cross (Romans 4:22-24).

 

 

I should pray with St. Paul to “be found in him [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own, based on law [good deeds done according to the law], but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9). This kind of prayer will be effective, especially when it is made within the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:22-23), whereby we genuinely repent, confess our sins, and receive sacramental absolution, by which the priest communicates to us God’s justifying decree that we ungodly sinners are now righteous, because of the redeeming, atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins.

 

 

When this happens to us, we become resplendent with God’s own righteousness shining in us, so that we can then be suitable ministers of reconciliation to others, communicating to them this message of reconciliation with God. Indeed, “all this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

 

 

We are given this ministry of reconciliation precisely because we have received the reconciling gift of Christ ourselves and have been made a new creation thereby, with Christ’s own resplendent righteousness reckoned to us by our faith in him (Romans 4:22-24). No one will take up such a ministry of reconciliation as an ambassador for Christ, calling people to be reconciled with God until he himself has first experienced this reconciling grace in his own life by coming to Jesus as a blind beggar, seeking and begging specifically with unshakable faith for the forgiveness of his sins and the gift of righteousness.

 

 

Then he will be transformed and will truly be an ambassador of Christ, a minister of reconciliation, a minister of the gospel, the good news of God reconciling sinners to himself through the death of his Son on the cross, by their faith in him and genuine repentance for their sins.

 

 

“Men will never take up the cross and confess Jesus before the world, and live for Him – until they feel that they are indebted to Him for pardon, peace, and hope. The ungodly are what they are – because they have no sense of sin, and no consciousness of being under any special obligation to Christ. The godly are what they are – because they love Him who first loved them, and washed them from sin in His own blood. Christ has healed them – and therefore they follow Christ” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900 emphasis in the original).

 

 

This inner transformation, which Christ works in those who approach him with unshakable faith, like that of the blind beggar, makes us disciples of Christ, just as this beggar got up and began to follow Jesus, praising God. This surely transformed his life, and it should do the same to us. We should then become people of prayer, spending time in both petitionary as well as silent, contemplative prayer every day and conducting some kind of a ministry to bring this reconciliation to others through our words, conversations, blogging, and sermons. As we do this, we grow in holiness (sanctification).

 

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