7 December, 2012. First Week of Advent – Friday
First Reading: Isaiah 29:17-24
(A promise of good times, when deaf shall hear and blind shall see.)
Shall not Lebanon in a very little while become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest?
On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off – those who cause person to lose a lawsuit, who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate, and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right.
Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no longer shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction.
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31
(Cure of two blind men -“According to your faith let it be done to you.”)
As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, “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 and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you. ” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this. ” But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.
Often as we read from Isaiah in Advent, we may wonder if his poetic sensibility blinded his common sense, so much does he focus on things that are not there – yet. Is he dreaming as he writes: “The deaf shall hear, the eyes of the blind shall see, the tyrant will be no more, Jacob shall have no longer be ashamed.” Something of the same impression comes upon us in reading the Gospel. Religion seems to turn into idyllic poetry and merits the charge of presenting “pie in the sky. ” Two blind men of Capernaum are cured by Jesus. The cynic will ask about the ninety-eight others who remained blind!
Even today, despite the miraculous, saving life of Jesus there are many deaf people who do not hear, many blind who do not see, many tyrants across the earth, many just people put to shame. Isaiah stated that in “a very little while” all this misery would cease. Yet we are still waiting for this magnificent transformation.
A detail in the Gospel may cast some light upon Isaiah’s mention of “a very little while. ” Jesus did not cure the two blind men right away. They followed him at some distance, calling out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” They caught up with Jesus, only when he had arrived at the house where he was staying that night. Only then, when he touched their eyes, were they cured. We too must follow Jesus with our desires and hopes – but also with patience. Jesus waited until the two blind men had caught up with him.
We too must seek Jesus rather than the gift easily put into our grasp. We must be convinced that Jesus can and will act for us out of loving compassion. He asked the two blind men: “Are you confident I can do this?” The personal interchange continued as they answered, “Yes, Lord!” At that he touched their eyes – gently, lovingly, beseechingly. Jesus can help us only when we confess a spontaneous faith in his goodness and allow him to touch us where we are weak and in need. As Jesus touched them, he said, “Because of your faith, it shall be done to you. ” At the moment when Jesus touches us, he looks into our hearts for an expression of faith. We must trust that his love will overcome every obstacle. In a true sense love is blind and sees none of the difficulties thrown into the way by fear and selfishness. Once we are found and Jesus touches us, the prophet Isaiah’s words come true. In that “very little while” there is an interchange of love and confidence – and we gain our full selves.