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Advent Friday 1 - Healing the blind

Friday, December 07, 2007
Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 26; Matthew 9:27-31

The gospel reading for today portrays Jesus as the great healer. It is one of a series of stories in Saint Matthew which tell of Jesus curing the sick. Here we see him restoring sight to two blind men. In all these stories of healing Jesus is shown to be the one who inaugurates the great age that the prophet Isaiah anticipates: 'In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see' (Isaiah 29:18). Yet the central theme of the reading is not in fact the miraculous or the dramatic healings but rather the issue of faith. In this story the absence of sight is understood not merely in terms of a physical disability, but stands as a symbol of unbelief which is a sort of spiritual blindness.

The two men in the gospel are cured of their blindness because of their faith. 'He touched their eyes saying. "Your faith deserves it, so let this be done for you." And their sight returned.' (Matthew 9:29-30). What sort of faith did these two men have? It is a faith that Jesus praises. It is also a faith that is enthusiastic to share the Good News with others. Yet is their faith completely mature? In their enthusiasm they do not appear to be completely responsive to the will of God. For as soon as they are healed they immediately disobey Jesus. He asks them not to talk about their cure, but instead they spread news of this miracle worker all over the countryside.

Faith is not something we possess fully from the beginning. Rather the Christian life is a journey of faith in which we seek to move ever closer to the Lord by attentively seeking to do his will. Advent is a time when this journey towards God is given particular liturgical expression. It is a special time to deepen our faith so that we might learn to know more completely the God who loves us and so welcome his light and truth into our lives when he comes at Christmas. Saint Ambrose, the fourth century bishop and doctor of the Church, whose feast we celebrate today, prayed: ‘Lord, teach me to seek You, and reveal Yourself to me when I seek You. For I cannot seek you unless You first teach me, nor find You, unless you first reveal yourself to me’.


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