Christ’s Healing of our Blindness with Mercy, First Friday of Advent, December 4, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the First Week of Advent
Memorial of St. John Damascene
December 4, 2015
Is 29:17-24, Ps 27, Mt 9:27-31

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • We encounter again today the double-dynamism of Lent: Christ’s coming and the way we’re called to go out to meet him. Today Christ was coming past two blind men, who first went out to meet him intentionally, crying out, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” Just like Jesus did a couple of days ago in climbing up the mountain and making everyone else exert themselves to come to him for miracles, so today Jesus doesn’t come to the blind men immediately to work the miracle, but goes into the city to make them make the effort to follow him. When they do, that’s when Jesus approaches and asks them the question of faith, “Do you believe that I can do this for you?” When they express their faith, Jesus helps them to see.
  • This physical story points to a very important spiritual lesson both for Advent as well as for the Year of Mercy that will begin in four days. Jesus with his mercy comes to us in history, mystery and majesty but we have to recognize our need for it and be willing to make the effort to come to receive it. Like St. John the Baptist will announce this Sunday, we need to make straight the paths. Jesus’ messianic work can be summarized by healing our blindness. In the first reading, Isaiah tells us, “On that day … out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see,” and we need to see ourselves among the blind whom the Savior comes to heal. Yesterday at the United Nations, I attended a day long event for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and during the opening panel, Luis Gallegos, the former Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN, discussed how when we think about the disabled, we ought to be thinking about each of us. He said if we live long enough, we’re going to start to have eye problems, need hearing aids, end up using canes and handicapped ramps and wheelchairs, and made likewise be dependent on so many things that today we take for granted. He says we need to remember that all of us will one day be handicapped. What is true at a physical level is certainly true spiritually. We’re all to some degree spiritually blind, incapable of seeing God where we ought. We’re deaf to his frequency with regard to many of the things he’s trying to say to us. Even though we can walk, fear cripples us from walking in certain directions. Jesus wants to address all of those at his coming, but we need to learn from the blind men how to cry out for mercy.
  • The Lord to whom we make that appeal is, we say today in the Responsorial Psalm, our “light and salvation.” He’s the one who saves our lives and illumines everything. In the Psalm we talk about four consequences of the restoration of sight he gives us.
    • The first is courage: “Whom should I fear? … Of whom should I be afraid?” Because the Lord is illumining our path and nothing in all of creation can separate us from his love, we have every reason not to remain in the darkness of fear.
    • The second is to see God’s sacredness all around us: “One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.” When the Psalm was being written, the Temple was considered the Temple in Jerusalem built by Solomon. But we know that when Jesus came, he opened our eyes to see that he is the true Temple and that we become part of that temple through baptism. To dwell in the house of the Lord all our days means to dwell in him. To contemplate his temple means to see that the whole world is charged with his grandeur. That’s what he wants us to see!
    • The third result is to behold God’s generosity. “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living.” The Lord gives abundantly and when we see with his light we begin to grasp just how generous he is, that he is constantly giving every meal we meet, every day we have, every friend we make, every prayer answered.
    • The last result is faith and hope: “Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.” Because the Lord is our Light and Salvation, we are able audaciously to wait for him with strong hearts. That’s what Advent is about. Waiting for him to do for us something even greater than what he did for the men in today’s Gospel.
  • In the Opening Prayer of Today’s Mass for the Feast of St. John of Damascus, the great 7th century doctor of the Church, we asked the Lord to grant us through the prayers of St. John “that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength.” The Lord is coming to us as our light and salvation and the way we’re called to go out to meet him is with a faith that likewise receives and reflects his light and is strengthened in response to Jesus’ salvation. And the place we come to meet him is right here at the altar.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 IS 29:17-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
But a very little while,
and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,
and the orchard be regarded as a forest!
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book;
And out of gloom and darkness,
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD,
and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone;
All who are alert to do evil will be cut off,
those whose mere word condemns a man,
Who ensnare his defender at the gate,
and leave the just man with an empty claim.
Therefore thus says the LORD,
the God of the house of Jacob,
who redeemed Abraham:
Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of,
nor shall his face grow pale.
When his children see
the work of my hands in his midst,
They shall keep my name holy;
they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob,
and be in awe of the God of Israel.
Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding,
and those who find fault shall receive instruction.

Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, our Lord shall come with power;
he will enlighten the eyes of his servants.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
“Son of David, have pity on us!”
When he entered the house,
the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.
Jesus warned them sternly,
“See that no one knows about this.”
But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.
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