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JESUS SAVES US FROM OUR SINS AND CALLS US TO A LIFE OF SIMPLICITY FOR HIS SAKE
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, 33rd Week of the Year, November 19, 2018
Revelation 1:1-4, 2:1-5, Psalm 1, Luke 18:35-43


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

 

"As he [Jesus] drew near 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!'" (Luke 18:35-38).


Today Jesus heals a blind man who cries out to him as the Messiah, using his messianic title, Son of David. Jesus answers his request to be healed of his blindness, saying, "Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee (sesoken se)" (Luke 18:42 KJV). The Greek text says "Your faith has saved you," as the King James Version translates it. The Revised Standard Version translates this as, "Your faith has made you well," which is what sesoken se means in this context, but sesoken se also has salvific connotations, since this is the word often used in the New Testament for the salvation that Christ came to bring us from our sins:


"She [Mary] will bear a son, and you [Joseph] shall call his name Jesus, for he will save [sosei] his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).


"And he [the Philippian jailer] brought them [Paul and Silas] out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved [sotho]?' So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved [sothese], you and your household'" (Acts 16:30-31 NKJV).


"If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [sothese]" (Romans 10:9).


Jesus came into the world to save us. His healings are signs of the deeper salvation that he came to bring us, which is salvation from our sins that alienate us from God and if serious will damn us to hell eternally. It is primarily this that Jesus came to save us from, although physical cures are still important.


When we are sick in body, we pray with faith that God will heal us, and we rejoice and thank him when he does. He will probably not restore a man in his seventies to the same condition that he was in in his twenties, but many other curable cuts and wounds he helps us to recover from, and we should pray with faith that he will do so, and then thank him when he does.


But these cures are also visible signs of an invisible deeper cure that Jesus primarily came to bring us. The deeper cure is that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). Christ is the victim who sacrificed himself to reconcile us alienated sinners with God.


Christ is "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).


Christ is the lamb of sacrifice that takes away our sins. As the sacrificial lamb suffers the sinner's penalty vicariously, that is, for the sinner and instead of the sinner, so Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God, suffers our penalty for our sins for us on the cross to save us from that penalty, which we would otherwise have to suffer for our sins.


"You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19).


"When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God ... For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:12, 14).


Christ vicariously suffered our punishment for our sins for us to save us from undergoing this punishment if only we put our faith in him and genuinely repent of our sins and abandon them.


So in looking at Jesus' cure of this blind man, we see a sign of what Jesus primarily came to do. We see it as a visible sign of the far more important invisible healing of our soul that is bowed down with depression, wounded, and alienated from God by our sins - even by small sins that rob us of our peace with God that God wants us to have.


So much does God want our peace with him to be restored to us and our depression and guilt for our sins to be lifted from us that he sent his own Son to suffer our just and necessary punishment for our sins for us on the cross. His suffering and death on the cross atoned for all human sins so that when anyone calls out to him with faith and genuine repentance, God will count Christ's suffering and death as fulfilling the suffering required of us by God for our sins, and God will proclaim us justified and righteous. Our guilt will be lifted from us and we will walk away forgiven and righteous to live in God's love and peace.


We also note today that this blind man was poor, for he was a beggar.


"As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging" (Luke 18:35).


And we note that as soon as he was cured, he left everything - he didn't have much to leave - and followed Jesus, which is what Jesus wanted the rich young man to do, namely to leave everything and follow him in his itinerant ministry as his full-time follower. Jesus said to the rich young man:


"One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Luke 18:22).


But the rich young man's great wealth and rich luxurious life held him back, and he turned down Jesus' invitation to a life of perfection. The blind man, on the other hand, who lacked wealth, quickly answered Jesus' invitation, because he was already living a simple and poor life and so following Jesus and leaving all else for his sake did not seem to him to be too hard a thing to do. So the cured blind man went on his way following Jesus and glorifying God, while the rich young man refused to follow him and went away sad.


"And immediately he [the blind man] received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God" (Luke 18:43).


"But when he [the rich young man] heard this [invitation to leave all] he became sad, for he was very rich" (Luke 18:23).


So we see that riches are not always a blessing, because those that have them are often tempted to use them to live a worldly life filled with worldly pleasures, and so they reject Jesus' higher call to a life of perfection, to a life that seeks its joy in the Lord, not in unnecessary, heart-dividing, time-wasting worldly pleasures that make us superficial and worldly in our attitude, thinking, activity, and lifestyle. This is why Jesus so often recommends a simple and strict life.


"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20).


"But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation" (Luke 6:24).


"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:25).


"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:13-14).


"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Matthew 13:44).


This is what we should do if we want to obtain the treasure of God's kingdom. We should leave everything else in order to obtain the treasure of the kingdom, as the man who found the buried treasure had to sell everything else in order to have enough money to buy the field and thus obtain the treasure buried in it.


"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).


The rich young man's service of mammon caused him to reject Jesus' invitation to a life of perfection. He could not serve God and mammon. To serve God in the perfect way that God desires, he must renounce his service of mammon. He must leave all and follow Jesus.


"Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life" (Luke 18:29-30 NKJV).


To receive a great reward we should renounce all else for God.


"For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:35).


To save your life in order to lose it is to live a pleasure-filled, heart-dividing, time-wasting, self-centered life of a rich man. Such a man is saving his life in a false way and will lose his life in the deepest sense with God. But the one who loses his life in this world for Christ's sake by renouncing a worldly life and unnecessary worldly pleasures will truly save his life. He will be blessed by God.


St. Paul says the same:


"Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14).


The blind man who followed Jesus received great blessings. He was crucified to the world and to a worldly life in order to follow Jesus full-time in his itinerant ministry. He was crucified to the world, and the world to him. We should be the same.

 

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