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First Friday of Advent: Curing the blind men

Friday, December 06, 2013
Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 27; Matthew 9:27-31

It is curious that the blind men in today’s gospel passage address Jesus as the ‘Son of David’. They clearly have faith in Jesus as the messiah and believe he is able to cure them of their blindness. Yet, when they are miraculously cured and Jesus sternly charges them to tell no one, they instead spread the news of their healing. The blindness was perhaps not only a physical blindness that was cured, but they could now see who Jesus really is, and that he is spreading the word of God. This was obviously too much for the men to keep secret.

We could compare today’s reading to a scene developed by Plato, in book VII of The Republic. In Plato’s allegory of the Cave, prisoners are chained up in an underground cave, unable to move or see anything other than a wall in front of them. These prisoners are literally kept in the dark, and the only ‘things’ they can see throughout their entire lives are shadows of objects that are cast upon the wall. They can see nothing else, and only engage with or imagine about shadows that are created by the prison guards, who are unseen but keep up the illusion. When one of the prisoners happens to be set free, there is a painful process of getting used to the light of the world outside of this cave, since the prisoner has never really used his eyes before. In the context of today’s reading and our own lives, perhaps some of us are still on that journey from the cave of darkness and ‘fake’ shadows, into the real world of the light of Christ. That is, finding out what is contained in the theology and philosophy of the Church. And some of us will already have the knowledge of the light of the ‘real’ world, whether that is having faith as strong as the blind men had, or knowledge on how much of a wasted life it is to be chained up and looking at shadows cast onto a wall. But who is to go back into the cave to warn the prisoners they are blinded by this fake reality? And which of us Christians will ‘free’ those who are blinded? 

Luke Doherty OP


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