Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.
- Matthew 20:29-34
Yesterday, we read that Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again." Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom." But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." so He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father." And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, and to the Passion, which He has now predicted three times to the disciples. The two blind men here greet Jesus as Lord, which is the common title for God, and Son of David, a title which was associated with the Messiah. Just as in yesterday's reading, Jesus asked the mother of Zebedee's sons, "What do you wish?" here He asks them, "What do you want Me to do for you?" My study bible says He knows what we want before we ask, but calls us to ask freely so that we might learn of His mercy. This story has also been traditionally interpreted spiritually, saying that the blind men symbolize future generations who would come to faith only by hearing, without the benefit of seeing Christ in person (see John 20:29). The ones who tried to silence the blind men are persecutors and tyrants in every generation who try to silence the Church and the faithful. Nevertheless, under persecution, the Church all the more professes Jesus Christ. Jericho was notorious as a place of sin. The blind men may symbolize our blindness in sin, and those universally who cry for the healing compassion of Christ -- on His way to the sacrifice for the life of the world, so that we may all have our eyes opened.
In yet another sense of interpretation of today's reading, we can think of the two blind men being told to be quiet as if they are viewed as unruly children. In a recent reading, mothers brought children to Christ for a blessing, and the disciples tried to discourage them as the children were considered too 'unruly' for the dignity of Christ. Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." As a sign of His compassion, Jesus turns to the cries of the blind men, despite the crowd, and asks what they want Him to do for them. This is also another occasion where Matthew's Gospel tells us the healing involved two people, where in Luke and Mark the story involves one. (It is possible that Luke and Mark mention only one, when there were more together.) But this too can be interpreted spiritually as a teaching that Jesus as Messiah is also Lord of the Gentiles, and that His mission and compassion are for all: for the life of the world. It is for the life of a world that lives in darkness that He is going to Jerusalem, to the Passion, and His sacrifice, death, and Resurrection. He is the one who transfigures everything with His light. In the light of His mission into the world, everything will change. Our whole picture of salvation changes, and our understanding of life in the world changes. Jews and Gentiles both undergo a transfiguration of their spiritual history; it is a mission for the whole world and all of our blindness. As we mentioned above, Jericho in its time was notorious for sin and corruption, even a place frightening for its crime and violence. Jesus sets the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) on this road going the opposite way -- from Jerusalem to Jericho. It's through that world He is passing, the one where humanity lives with such darkness, and it's this world He has come to illuminate, into which His light shines in the darkness. These blind men symbolize all those who recognize their blindness and want His light. I think it's important that we consider what life we wish for when we are complacent with blindness and darkness, or when we choose to embrace it. It's difficult work to embrace Christ's light. It casts light on all the things we can so easily forget, or live in denial about. It asks us for change, for transfiguration, and reaches deep down into who we are, for surprising results. People may find us to be different from the person they are used to. All of this involves the strength of faith, the courage to cry to Him, to be "unruly" for some, perhaps to be called out, and no longer to fit in with the crowd we know. But wisdom is justified by her children, and His light is still the light of the world in which we see light. For the early Christians, the allegorical road from Jerusalem to Jericho was the way of death, and His road out of Jericho to Jerusalem the way of life. It's our choice.