Going out to Meet our Light and Salvation, 1st Friday of Advent, December 2, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the First Week of Advent
December 2, 2016
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 in the past, present and future — history, mystery and majesty — and the way the Church has been teaching us how we’re called to go out to meet him in each of these three moments.
  • 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!” But then Jesus had them come to meet him physically. It would have been easy for him just to go to where they were at — like he stopped for the woman with the hemorrhage elsewhere in the Gospel — and work the miracle there, but he doesn’t. Jesus went 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 is a pattern we see throughout the Gospel. Jesus could have been born right next to the Shepherds, but instead he comes down from heaven to Bethlehem and has them move some distance to run by faith. Two days ago, if we were not celebrating the feast of St. Andrew, we would have had the Gospel of Jesus’ multiplying the loaves and fish, which began with his having all of the people bringing him the lame, the blind and those with illnesses have to climb a mountain before they received their miraculous cures. He comes, but he still makes us get up and go to meet him, to stoke our faith and our desire.
  • This is a very important spiritual lesson both for Advent as well as for life. 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. Today at the United Nations, there will be a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Last year, during the opening panel, Luis Gallegos, the former Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN, gave a speech I still remember a year later. He discussed how when we think about the disabled, we ought to be thinking not just about “others” but 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 said 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. And so today we need to ask the Lord Jesus to open us up to see the history of his birth, the mystery of his presence in the Sacraments, his word, in the Church and others, and in future majesty when he comes again with the eyes of faith.
  • The Lord to whom we need to look, to whom we direct that prayer, the Messiah who will make the eyes of the blind see, is, as we pray today in the Responsorial Psalm, our “light and salvation.” He’s the one who saves our lives and illumines everything. And once we begin to see things in his light, four things happen, as we prayed later in the Psalm:
    • First, we’re filled with courage.  “Whom should I fear? … Of whom should I be afraid?,” we prayed. 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. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to do what we need to do despite our fear. When we see Christ with us, who triumphed even over death, how could we not have the courage of the martyrs?
    • Second, we’re enabled to see God’s sacredness all around us: “One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek,” we prayed: “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 understood to be 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 contemplate his temple means to see that the whole world is charged with his grandeur. To dwell in the house of the Lord all our days means to dwell in him. That’s what he wants us to see!
    • Third, we’re filled with thanksgiving because we behold God’s generosity everywhere.  “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living,” we prayed together. 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. And he even loves us enough to give us the Cross and some privations precisely so that he can fill us with even greater spiritual gifts.
    • Fourth, he we’re filled with faith and hope to live the Advent of life. We prayed, “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, with “proud” hearts that remember our dignity restored by the immensity of his life. Waiting for him courageously in that way is what Advent is about. We’re waiting for him to do for us something even greater than what he did for the men in today’s Gospel.
  • The Lord is coming to us today as our light and salvation and the way we’re called to go out to meet him is with a faith like that of the blind men, following him here to Church, where after having taught us, he’s about to feed us with himself.

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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