LIKE NEW BORN BABES THIRST FOR THE PURE MILK OF THE WORD THAT YOU MIGHT GROW IN HIM, FOR YOU HAVE TASTED THAT THE LORD IS SWEET. The more experience we gain of our human condition, the keener our appreciation for the role of words in the lives of people. Saint Peter in this text expresses a sensitive awareness of the power of the word of salvation that his readers have already received. He encourages them to concentrate their desire on absorbing the content of the revealed word of God. He does so with the assurance that they will find it a source of delight, for it imparts more than a message about their eternal welfare; in this word they encounter the Lord himself. This word is not only a source of sweetness but of growth; indeed, it is as essential for growth as milk is for a new-born infant. This word is life-giving. It reveals the Lord as infinite, wise, powerful, but above all as caring for his offspring, for He is good.
Today's Gospel text presents this truth in action. Jesus, the Word of God appeared among us in the flesh, is recognized as a master, filled with wisdom and authority. He disposes of powers to heal and cast out demons, to give a new lease on life and with this healing to raise hearts to a higher happiness. He does not hesitate to impart this gift when he finds persons receptive to his word and believing in his person. For he is good and goes about doing good to others. Accordingly when this blind man near Jericho cries out for healing and displays complete trust in Jesus, the Lord gives him sight with a simple word.
St. Peter encourages us to see in the Lord's words more than a source of physical healing that allows one to see the light of the sun. The true light that emanates from him is interior, illuminating the eyes of the heart with a spiritual force of understanding that binds us to himself in a shared vision. The light of that vision is the very glory of God the Father, mediated through his risen Son and imparted to us through our faith in him. Many years after St. Mark wrote about this healing of the blind man and St. Peter exhorted the Christians of Asia minor to long after the milk of the word, St. Augustine described his experience as he sought after the light with ardent desire, striving to get free of the darkness of sin and ignorance.
Admonished by them (the Platonic writings) to return to myself, I entered into my most intimate self, with you as my guide. I was able to do that for you were my helper. I entered and saw with some sort of eye of my soul, above the same eye of my soul, above my mind, the Light unchangeable... And you beat back the weakness of my sight, radiating with great force, and I trembled with love and dread. And I found myself far from you in the region of unlikeness as it were I heard your voice from on high: I am the food of adults; grow and eat me. You will not change me into you, but you will be changed into me. (ConfessionsVII.X.16 PL 32: 742)
It is this source of light and life that we receive here in the Eucharist as we partake of this sacrament together. May we desire it ardently and by the works of love that proceed from faith, be found worthy, like the man given new vision by the Lord's word, to follow after him, counted among his friends.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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