December 4, 2023

Homily for the 14th Sunday of Luke on the Healing of the Blind Man in Jericho (Patriarch Germanos II of Constantinople)

Fourteenth Sunday of Luke

Healing of the Blind Man in Jericho

(Luke 18:35-43)

By Patriarch Germanos II of Constantinople (+ 1240)

God is the Sun of Righteousness, as it is written, who illumines all things with the rays of His goodness. And the soul of each person, according to their disposition, becomes either wax, as a God-lover, or clay, as a material-lover. For just as clay naturally dries up with the sun, so every soul that is material-loving and world-loving, while being instructed by God, hardens, like clay, because its reasoning ability is reversed, and is led on its own to perdition. But the God-loving soul softens like wax and accepting within itself the types and characters of the divine concepts, becomes the dwelling place of God in Spirit. The sensible sun is seen, it does not see. The noetic sun is seen by the worthy, but it also sees everyone and more so those who see it. The sensible sun does not speak or give speech to anyone, but the noetic sun speaks to his friends and gives sight and speech to all. The sensible sun, shining in sensible places, with the heat of its rays dries up the moisture of the earth, without, however, nourishing the plants and the seeds. Whereas the noetic sun, when it rises in the soul, does both: it dries up the dampness of the passions, washing away the impurity caused by them, and at the same time it fertilizes the noetic earth of the soul, and thus the plants of virtue are nourished and grow. The Lord is light, brilliance for those souls who struggle for the purification of their lives and words. Indeed, if ignorance and sin are darkness, knowledge and godly life will be light. Christ is called light because He illumines the nous to understand secrets and show mysteries, which are visible only to the pure. Christ is light because He noetically illuminates the hearts of believers and gives people the sensible light of the eyes. That is why He said: "I am the light of the world" and "I have come as a light into the world". That this is the reality, is shown to us by the passage of the evangelical divine words that will be read today, and it is as follows:

"Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant."

The Lord visited every city and region of Judea, where he healed every disease and every physical defect, and preached repentance, returning the lost to the knowledge of the truth and confirming the teachings with his paradoxical miracles. For men are accustomed to be persuaded and to obey not so much by words as by works. Passing through the Judean cities, the Savior also approached Jericho. Jericho was once the capital of the Canaanites, one of the largest cities of the Gentiles. This Jericho was once overtaken by Joshua in a siege, when he was fighting against the Gentiles. But now the real Joshua* took possession of her for healing and salvation. He wanted to liberate her, who had been captive, and build her up spiritually, she who had long ago been demolished, and to attract to Him the one who had been estranged. From the same city came that Rahab, the harlot, who received Joshua's spies and rescued them. So as the Lord traveled the road that led to Jericho, many people followed Him. They flocked from everywhere for His miracles and teachings. And a certain blind man who was sitting by the side of the road begging, heard the commotion and noise of those who were following after Christ and being taught and healed by Him, and he asked to know what was happening. And when they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he rejoiced, because he had heard about the miracles He performs and considered it a unique opportunity for the Lord to perform His miracle for him, who is blind and in need of healing. And he was trying to approach Him, crying out to Him loudly: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me." And the Lord said to him: "What do you want me to do to you?" and why are you shouting like that? What do you ask, man, from Him who on your behalf has fallen into utter poverty? What do you demand from Him who has no head to rest anywhere? And the blind man insisted on begging Him and entreating Him saying: "I want to see."

The blind man did not ask for something small and insignificant from the God and Master. Neither gold, nor money, nor food, nor coverings, nor anything else of the like, as he asked of the people, although He who gives everything to everyone could have given them to him, but he only said to him: "Lord, I want to see." No one else can give me this, because only God has the ability to have mercy and save. That is why I come and prostrate myself and on my knees I beg you, as the Creator and Lord of all, and cry out for mercy and call you Son of David. Because I believe that you are the expected descendant of David, who came out of immeasurable mercy to save our race. But also in another sense he calls Christ the son of David, because this name was highly honored by the Jews. And the Prophets, those kings they wanted to honor, they called them that way and with that name they glorified them. Therefore, since this blind man had also been brought up in Judaism, he was not ignorant of what the Law and the Prophets say about Christ, and that Christ will physically come from the line of David. And as towards God, he prayed for mercy, because only God is in a position to have mercy. And as coming from the ancestry of David, he calls Him the Son of David. It should be noted that the interpretation of the name David is: beloved and mighty. From Him therefore he asks with such longing for mercy. And the blind man did not say to Him: ask God or pray for me or beg or entreat, but have mercy on me, precisely because he knew that He is the Son of God, who was born of the holy and ever-virgin Mary. That is why according to his faith he received healing.

"Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!'"

This is an enduring and fiery soul. If the blind man's faith had not been fervent, he would not have burst out more when he was commanded to be silent. That is why he deserved to be asked by the Savior and to approach him, and he did not fail in his purpose, but received the cure.

"So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' He said, 'Lord, I want to see.'”

The Master did not ask because He was ignorant, but so that no one else would think that the blind man wanted something else and gave him something else. But He wanted those accompanying Him and those who found Him there to know the faith of the one approaching Him. That is why the Lord asked this question. This becomes evident from the very answer of the Lord: you want to see, he says? "Receive your sight." And at the same moment that he heard it, he "looked up" and reaped the fruit of faith, salvation: "Your faith has made you well". This is the testimony of Christ, who with these words showed that the cause of his healing was the blind man himself. He became by faith the cooperator of this marvelous feat. Indeed, at the moment when He said to him "Receive your sight", immediately the voice of the Lord became a light for the blind man and "immediately he received his sight", because the voice was of light, the speech was of the giver of light. "And he followed Him glorifying God." In other words, when the blind man received from Christ the blessing, he did not neglect to accompany Him, and he followed him glorifying him as God", and it became an occasion for others to glorify and praise God. "And all the people," it says, "when they saw it, gave praise to God." And while before the gift the blind man appeared enduring, after the gift he looks grateful. Enduring because, although they despised him and many prevented him from crying out, he persisted crying out "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me". And grateful because when he received the grace, and he did not run away, as many do after favors, being ungrateful to the benefactors.

Let us also imitate him with zeal and eagerness and let us be diligent in our prayers even before we receive what we ask for, and after we receive them let us not remain ungrateful to the benefactors. And let us pray with longing, even if we are the most lowly and despised. Let us offer prayers to the Lord ourselves so that we receive from Him the requests in our interest. For that blind man had neither a guide, nor could he see the Savior, nor could he find an advocate among the Apostles, but although he had many who forbade him to speak and prevented him from approaching, he was able to overcome all obstacles and approached Him Himself, the healer and Savior Christ. Neither his social position nor his way of life gave him courage, but instead of all these there came a eagerness which nothing was able to hinder. Let us try to acquire the same eagerness in our prayers to the Master. And if the Lord postpones, and there are many who distance us and hinder us, let us then try harder, and our philanthropic God will draw near to us and fulfill our requests.

In fact, all the difficult and agonizing and even more the sad and painful things, which no one and not even one the saints can yet cure, Christ himself vanishes and heals them miraculously, as being wise and the originator that He is. And the Lord did not only open the external eyes of the blind man, but also the internal ones of the soul. This is evident from the fact that after this he followed Him and glorified God. Because the Saints and the Prophets, whatever miracles they performed, did them after they had previously entreated God and asked Him for strength, in this manner they performed all their paradoxical miracles. Also, the Apostles later, performed the divine signs after first kneeling on the ground and entreating God. However, Christ, as the Master and Lord of all, commanded the creation, sometimes saying to the sea "be still, be still", sometimes to the leper "I am willing, be cleansed" and sometimes again he reprimanded the unclean demon saying, "come out of him and do not enter into him again". And now, with His divine gesture, He granted to the blind man both sensible light and the noetic light. For it is He who at the beginning of the creation of the world separated the darkness from the light, but also created the light. And He appears to the souls of the worthy, always transmitting His brilliance, and to the sensible eyes of those who come to Him, He bestows sight, as Creator and Maker. Then the blind man was given his sight, and the people believed. And every mouth spoke of Jesus, every eye saw the blind man healed. It was indeed a paradox the miracle that took place. But those, with what they saw, gained confidence in the Lord's teachings and believed that what the Lord foretold would also be fulfilled, being assured and informed about this by the miracles. As for us, since we see that everything that the Lord foretold was fulfilled without delay, it is right to believe in all the miracles that happened then and to consider that we are present as spectators with them. And indeed to believe unquestioningly in those paradoxical works, just as if we were, at that time, eyewitnesses to the active signs.

Let us "glorify God in our body", as the blessed Paul persuades us. And how is God glorified by the members of our body? If we do not see what is bad, but learn to see what is good. And we glorify God when through His visible creation we see the invisible, and we thank Him for all that He has done. God is glorified when we do not listen to evil and satanic songs, but we listen to the words of God, and we open the doors of hearing not to devilish and evil sounds, but always to divine exhortations and teachings. And in general, God is glorified by all our members, when we rightly believe in Him and fulfill His holy commandments. Let us prepare ourselves daily to be right before God. For the Prophet Hosea says: "Observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually." And again the Prophet Malachi on behalf of God says: "A son honors his father, and a servant his master: if then I am a father, where is My honor? and if I am a master, where is My fear? says the Lord Almighty". And the Apostle says: "Cleanse yourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit". And the Proverb again advises, "Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life" (that is, your way of life is an externalization of your heart). And Christ says: "Cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside may also be clean." Therefore, my brethren, let us fear and strive to look up to the light of God's commandments, even if we are blind, and let us come to the Lord through repentance and confession and abstinence from abominable and forbidden works, and let us cast off the garments that we have put on, that is, the works of darkness, or earthly and material cares, and "put on the weapons of light" and virtues, and let us "walk as in light and day properly" and righteously and venerably, so that we can follow Him, our Master and Liberator and Savior Jesus Christ our God to whom belongs glory and power together with His Father who is without beginning and the consubstantial and life‑giving Spirit now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.


* The name Joshua in Hebrew and Greek is the same as Jesus, but translated differently in English. 

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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