With Jesus, Silence Gives Way To Healing, And Humility Gives Way To Love

With Jesus, Silence Gives Way To Healing, And Humility Gives Way To Love July 24, 2022

Nick Thompson: Jesus Heals Two Blind Men (Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna) / flickr

Jesus, being all-compassionate, was concerned about the health and welfare of the people he encountered. One of the many things he came to do was to be a healer. People with all kinds of problems,  whether they were physical, psychological, spiritual, or social, would come to him and ask him for his help. He didn’t find an excuse to ignore them (which, sadly, many Christians do when they see people suffering in the world today). This is why many who suffered placed their hope and trust in him, and he did not disappoint, though sometimes they would disappoint him afterwards, because they would not do what he asked of them:

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”  When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.”  Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, “See that no one knows it.”  But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. (Matt. 9:27-31 RSV).

It is perfectly naturally for those who have been helped to be grateful and to want to show that gratitude. Jesus asked the two blind men to go against that nature, but it could be said, they couldn’t help themselves. Of course, if they did as Jesus asked, they would have had been placed in a difficult situation, for they would have had to explain to others how they could finally see without indicating it was thanks to Jesus. Indeed, some might have ended up thinking the two men had been pretending to be blind, and so it is not surprising that they didn’t do as Jesus asked, but rather, shared with all what happened, not only because they were thankful to Jesus, but also because they felt that they had to explain why they finally could see. With his compassion and love for them, we can imagine Jesus understood, and though perhaps disappointed, was not angered. What is important in this narrative is the way it highlighted the humility by which Jesus acted: he didn’t heal people out of desire for fame, but out of love.

We are expected to imitate Jesus, which means, we should help those who come to us if we are able to do so. And the more we do this, the  better we will understand why Jesus didn’t want attention brought to himself. For, if nothing else, the more we help people, the more people will come to us, expecting us to help them. We might find that many will come to us making demands of us, expecting us to do things which we can’t do. Likewise, if we are humble, and enjoy the peace humility can bring, we know how troubling accolades can be, as they will challenge and disturb that peace. For the more praise we get from others, the harder it will be for us to have things remain the same, for us to continue to remain humble, and enjoy the peace found in such humility. And yet, if care about others, and we are humble, or at least strive to be, one of the things such humility will lead us to do is to help others when asked because we will not be thinking about our own wants and needs, but rather, place the needs of others before our own. Thus, we will find ourselves in a paradoxical situation – the more we act out of such love and humility, and do what we can to serve others, the more famous we might become, which will make it difficult for us to remain humble, and yet if we don’t do what we are asked, we certainly will absolutely find ourselves far from such love and humility as we will be putting our own wants and desires above the needs of  others. This is why we might want to follow after Jesus, and ask those we help not to make a big deal out of what we did, realizing that some might honor our request, but others will not, just as many did not honor Jesus when he told them to be silent.

Some might think this is why we should seek to do nothing, that is, we should just seek to hide away from the world. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we should know that doing nothing is not the solution. Not only will we lose sight of the love which we should follow, we risk embracing a false humility. Paul made it clear, as Christians, we should be thinking of others over and above ourselves: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him” (Rom 15:1-2 RSV). If we ignore our neighbor out of fear that we should lose our humility, we would be serving ourselves, edifying ourselves over and above them, and in doing so, find ourselves turning away from the love and charity which we should possess as Christians.  This explains why Jesus, who would have preferred those he helped kept silent, did not stop acting on their behalf, because he acted out of love, thinking of them over and above his own desires, realizing in doing so, the fame he received would ultimately serve for a greater purpose, that is, bringing him closer to the end of his earthly ministry:

For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope (Rom. 15:3-4 RSV).

Jesus knew his fame would eventually lead people to criticize him, to reproach him, and through such reproaches, he would eventually be brought to the end of his life. There are many commentators who think this is probably why he wanted people to be silent, because he wanted to make sure the final reproach, that is the cross, happened at the right time and place. Jesus, after all, knew that it had to come at the right time, and when that time had not come, he would flee from those who would do him harm.  When he felt he had accomplished everything he hoped to do in his ministry, then he let humanity do to him as it wanted, which was to kill him (by means of the cross).

Finally, it is important to realize how humility helps us. Not only can it help us find peace within ourselves, but it can help us find peace with those around us, that is, with our neighbor. Obviously, not everyone will be appeased by our humility and love, just as they were not with Jesus. Thus, the more we act out of love, even if we do so with all humility, the more likely our fame will grow in the world, and the more we have such fame, the more some will come to us just to oppose us, to make some sort of conflict with us. Every good we do might meet with some resistance, just as it did with Jesus. And if that is the case, then, we should not be surprises if we get reproaches like Jesus did. But, like Jesus, we should not fear them, using them as excuses to ignore the work we can and should do in the world to make it better. We should do what we can to help our neighbor. This is what Jesus did, and now, having found ourselves incorporated into his body with baptism, it is what we should do as long as we shall live.

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