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January 23, 2022

Homily on the Healing of the Blind Man of Jericho (St. Luke of Simferopol)

Homily on the Healing of the Blind Man of Jericho

(14th Sunday of Luke)

Luke 18:35-43

Delivered on January 27, 1952

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

In today's Gospel reading, you heard the story of the miraculous healing of a blind man in Jericho by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Did you pay attention to how persistently, how intensely he asked the Lord for healing? He asked, he cried out, he begged, and the apostles of Christ forbade him to shout so as not to disturb the Lord.

And the Lord called him and restored his sight.

Do you remember how persistently the pagan Syro-Phoenician woman begged the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing of her possessed daughter? Do you remember with what perseverance the bleeding woman sought healing from Him, hoping that with one touch of His clothes she would receive healing?

Aren't these all examples for us? Is it not a teaching that when we are in need of the grace of God, we must insistently, earnestly cry out to Him, ask, beg, until we receive it; in the perseverance of their prayer, be like the blind man of Jericho, the Syro-Phoenician woman, and the bleeding woman.

This is the first thing I wanted to tell you.

And now let's deepen our thoughts and ask ourselves why our Lord Jesus Christ did so many healings of the sick?

Everyone who carefully reads the Gospel knows that all the miracles of Christ were aimed at alleviating human suffering. He healed the blind, the lame, cleansed the lepers, healed all the sick who came to Him in multitudes. He fed a huge number of hungry people with five loaves and two fish.

And if any of you have ever read the Muslim Quran, you must have been struck by the deep difference between the miracles of Christ and those that Muslims attribute to their prophet Muhammad. Oh, how little resemblance; oh, how much distance in the miracles of Muhammad. How strange they are, how unnecessary, how useless they are for people!

Our Lord Jesus Christ in His miracles showed His love for people, His pity for the suffering, the unfortunate, always tried to alleviate their suffering. This is important, remember this.

But perhaps someone will ask: “But is the circle of human calamities limited only by disease and hunger? Are there not enough evils and misfortunes, and sufferings, and torments that depend on the imperfection of the social and state system, on the injustice of this system?

Oh yes, we know what countless disasters people have experienced at all times, in all countries, under all governments, for this very reason.

And you ask why our Lord Jesus Christ did not pay attention to these disasters, why in His earthly activity there was nothing similar to the deeds of the great reformers, great legislators who sought to eradicate social untruth, to put an end to the suffering of people dependent on this untruth.

I will answer this question for you.

You know that immediately after being baptized in the Jordan, the Lord Jesus Christ was led by the Spirit into the wilderness and spent forty days there without food or drink, preparing for His greatest ministry.

And there, when on the fortieth day He was hungry, Satan took advantage of this. He knew that a long-starving person loses his will power, loses the ability to resist, and therefore he waited until the fortieth day, and when the Lord Jesus Christ became hungry, then he approached Him with his devilish temptation.

I will not talk about all three temptations, I will dwell on only one - the last and most powerful one.

“Again, the devil took him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and he said unto him, 'All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:8-9).

Do you understand the essence of this temptation, its power and danger? Satan offered Him power, indivisible, absolute, complete power over all the kingdoms of the earth, if only He would bow to him. Of course, the Lord rejected this temptation as well.

Why was it rejected? Because Satan offered the power that every government has. And no state power can in any case do without coercion, without violence. It forces obedience with its laws, punishes for non-fulfillment, severely punishes - forces, coerces, and not even the best, most perfect power can act without coercion. Coercion is a necessary attribute of state power.

But the Lord, did He want to act by coercion? Oh no, oh no! He did not want to, He rejected any power associated with coercion.

One day one of the people came up to Him and said to Him: “Master! tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." And He said to the man, “Who appointed me to judge or divide you?” (Luke 12:13–14).

He needed another power: He was looking for another power, He wanted to rule over free human hearts.

People are created with free will, they can choose their own path in life as they like: either the path of truth and suffering for the truth, the path of mercy, the path of love, or the path of rejecting all truth and serving their lusts and passions, they can choose the path of sin.

God does not force anyone to choose this or that path, for He gave us free will. And precisely because we were created with free will, Christ does not want to influence us by coercion, to influence us in the way that state power does.

He, as God, could by heavy punishments force all people to obey Him; could force everyone to leave the path of evil and unrighteousness, could destroy even the devil himself, but He does not want to force us. He seeks free, loving submission to Himself. He seeks in the hearts of men faith in Him and love for Him. If he finds faith and love, then by His Divine grace He saves such a person.

Our Lord and God Jesus Christ once said the most important words that none of you will forget: “... out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies ...” (Matt. 15:19).

He says that the source of all our actions, good and evil, is our heart, and knowing this, He wanted to purify the hearts of people.

Through His great apostle Paul, He says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

Your hearts, according to the will, according to the desire of the Savior, must be temples of the Holy Spirit, your hearts must be pure, full of love for God, full of hatred for all evil. And such fully cleansed hearts can correct all social calamities.

And with the best political and social system, with the best and just laws, there are a large number of people with impure, evil hearts. They are only afraid of coercion, they are afraid of punishment, but they don’t want to obey good, just laws, they try to get around them, and the demons teach them how to get around even just laws. And until human hearts are corrected, this will inevitably be repeated.

Those who are perplexed why Christ did not care about social disasters, rejected political power, I ask those who think about what I say.

Don't you know that the Lord has always taught mercy, pity, compassion, love, don't you know that at the Last Judgment He will judge by one sign: whether they did deeds of mercy and love or did not do them. This is the only measure by which the All-Righteous Judge will be guided.

And the Christians of the apostolic times perceived the teaching of Christ precisely in this way. They were full of sorrow for the disasters experienced by their needy brethren, full of sorrow for social inequality. And these ancient Christians took care with all their might that there would be no inequality, no poverty. They sold their estates and brought the proceeds to the feet of the apostles for distribution among those in need. They were all one soul and one heart, and there were no needy among them. Is this not a cure for social injustice?

Yes, of course, the only radical healing, for only when people are imbued with pity, mercy for their brethren who are in need, when all people are united by Divine love, only then will the calamities of social injustice, social inequality be cured. Only then will the life of people be blessed, when in all their aspirations all people will be guided by the law of love, the law of truth.

You know from the newspapers what the Americans are doing in unfortunate Korea, striving to acquire world power, imposing their own laws, ready to enforce them with atomic bombs. But do they not consider their state system to be perfect and just, the best system of all other nations?

If they are doing such a monstrous lie anywhere and everywhere, what shall we say about their social system? Let us say that it is vicious, unjust, unfair, that their hearts are full of malice and unrighteousness.

It was precisely evil and untruth that Christ wanted to eradicate in human hearts. With His call to love and mercy, to compassion for the unfortunate, He wanted to heal social ailments.

You see that the opinion of some that Christ was indifferent to the injustice of social relations is unjust. No one with such great depth felt this untruth as He, no one so ardently wanted to eradicate it. But He knew that there was only one way to do this - the correction of the human heart.

This is the task of our life - to correct our hearts and purify them so that no unrighteousness comes out of them. And only then will the holy truth reign in relations between people, when the hearts of all of them become sources of love, and not malice, selfishness and envy.

In this great work of cleansing our hearts, may the One Who Guides the Heart help us. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.