DECEMBER 5, 2003 FRIDAY 1ST WK OF ADVENT: HOMILY- ISAIAH 29: 17- 24; MT 9: 27- 31

OUT OF THE GLOOM AND DARKNESS THE EYES OF THE BLIND SHALL SEE. Jesus healed the two blind men who approached him with eager and confident faith. Because in their spirit they saw truly that he was endowed with a power from God he felt called upon  to give them physical healing. Their restored sight was, as it were, a sign of the faith hidden in their hearts. Such faith was a condition for their healing, as the Lord made clear by his words “because of your faith it will be done to you”. Faith itself is a beginning of healing of a spiritual blindness that separates a person from the light of truth and the beauty of the divine glory in its various manifestations. 

This is the blindness that the prophet Isaiah refers to in today’s first reading OUT OF THE GLOOM AND DARKNESS THE EYES OF THE BLIND SHALL SEE, he proclaimed. At the time of his call when he saw the Lord of glory enthroned in heaven he heard the voice of the Lord saying: ‘Go, and say to this people: ‘Hear and hear but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive.’ If his preaching was to confirm his hearers in their blindness it was because they had already closed the eyes of their spirit to the divine light revealed at Sinai. His mission was to a people who were unable to see and recognize the truth of his message of salvation. Thus the result of his preaching will be the further hardening of their heart. This is the meaning of the command given by the Lord to Isaiah on this same occasion: “Make the heart of these people fat.” 

Such inner confusion and blindness results from taking the easy way, going along with the crowd, neglecting to pursue opportunities for inner growth., not making the effort required to put into practice the insights we get.  We are all of us subject to slipping into such habits of mind as gradually dull the heart and lead to a blindness that darkens within us the knowledge of God even as it alienates us from what is best in our own self. Repeatedly our Lord warned his followers to stay alert, to watch and be ready for he knew how prone we are to drift into spiritual dullness. As he wrote his gospel St. John came to see how the words directed to Isaiah applied in all their fullness to Jesus himself in his ministry. He cites Isaiah: “ ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart and turn for me to heal them.’ And John adds “Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke of him.”  (John 12:40, 41). In other words, it was the risen Christ that Isaiah beheld at his inauguration as a prophet

Jesus knew himself precisely as ‘the light of the world”. By faith he enlightens every man and woman who comes into the world. And yet, John adds in his Prolog , ‘the world knew him not.’  Advent is a season of a longing faith, aware that without the light of Christ we walk in darkness. Faith is not only a light, it is a source of inner strength. It gives us access to a transforming power, as we read in the same Prolog of John: “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1: 12).

 Faith is a great gift of God; but, as is clear from what has been said above, there is much we can do to prepare for it, to foster its growth and to extend its influence in our lives. Advent is a Season given us precisely to facilitate and encourage the strengthening of faith through a discipline of penance and self denial, by a more serious attention to holy reading, to meditation and reflection on our life and our times in light of the word of God and going out of our way to be helpful to others.  Let us pray that the light of Christ may penetrate to those countries and persons where it remains faint or absent. And may our faith take the form of a fervent longing to spread the knowledge and love of the Savior who, having given himself for us comes to sanctify us daily to prepare us for life with him in the kingdom of his Father. & 

 

 mail to: Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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