Friday December 7, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week in Advent
Reading (Isaiah 29:17-24) Gospel (St. Matthew 9:27-31)
As we see the cure of these two blind men in the Gospel reading today, we need to look first at what was required of them. They had been crying out after Jesus: "Son of David, have pity on us!" Jesus just kept walking and He continued until He got to the home of Saint Peter. Then the two blind men caught up with Him. So the Lord made them put everything on the line. If they believed that they would be able to be healed, He made them work for it. It was not enough just to be able to cry out "Have mercy on us!" but they had to really put the effort forth; they had to do some work in order for that to happen. Even when they did catch up with Him, He looked at them and said, "Are you confident that I can do this? Do you really believe that I am able to do this?"
When we look at these two things, they are the two areas where most people fail. Many people will cry out to the Lord and ask for something to be done, but they do not really want to work at it. If it becomes any kind of an inconvenience, we just let it go. But we see, with these two men that are blind, the inconvenience that was there: They had to continue to walk down the road blind to be able to find the house where Jesus went. Now we do not know exactly how far it was that they had to walk, but nonetheless, they were two blind men; this was not an easy thing for them to be able to do. Then they still had to make that act of faith that they were indeed confident that the Lord would be able to do what it was they were asking. Only then did the Lord say, "It will be done according to your faith."
The same thing is going to be said of each one of us. How much effort are we really going to put forward to find the Lord? In our spiritual blindness, most of us, well, we just run into everything instead of following Him. We bang into things and we get ourselves caught up into various traps and then we just give up. We do not follow the Lord for [long] because we are caught up in ourselves. We get caught up in the difficulty and we think that it is not worth it. These two blind men thought that it was worth it just to be able to have their sight. For us, we need to recognize that it is a spiritual blindness from which we suffer, not a physical blindness. And so, if it was worth it for these men to have their physical sight, how much more worthwhile is having that spiritual insight, to have that clarity in the spiritual life to be able to see the Lord? That is what we want to do for eternity: to look at God face-to-face. Why would we not want to be able to see clearly now? That is what we need to ask Him.
But how much is it worth to us? If we get caught up in the physical, we think that because we can see without any problem and we can hear and we can walk around that we do not have any problem. But we do. It is not that we are physically blind or lame or deaf, but spiritually; because it is not physical and it is not as obvious to us, we tend to just leave it in the background and pay it little attention. We need to recognize that what is spiritual is far more important than what is physical. And if we would put forth the effort like these men to be able to get their sight back, how much more effort should we put into getting spiritual sight, to have the Lord remove that darkness and gloom of which Isaiah talks about in the first reading for those who are blind?
We need to put forth the effort. But we also need to have the faith that He will do what it is that He has promised He will do. Again, we admit it in our heads. If somebody asked you, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ, being the Son of God, actually can do these things?" I do not suppose that there is anybody here who would say, "No, He canít do that." We would all say, "Of course He can do that! He is God!" But when it comes right down to it and He looks at us and says, "Are you confident that I will be able to do this thing for you?" then we say, "Well, Ö.no." We do not really think that He is going to do it. And so He canít - not that He canít, itís that we will not let Him. Remember when He went to Nazareth, we are told that He could only heal a few sick people because of the lack of faith. He could not work any miracles Ė not that He did not have the power to do it, but they did not have the faith to allow it to be done. That is what most Christian people suffer from: spiritual paralysis, spiritual blindness. We do not believe that the Lord is really going to do what He promised. We do not believe that He would do that for us.
And so, when the Lord looks right at us and says, "Okay, you have put forth the effort. Now, are you confident that I am going to do this for you?" we need to be confident. Confidence means "with faith". We have to have faith that the Lord will do what He has promised - not only that He can do it, that He will do it. That is what He is going to hold us responsible for: to put forth the effort and to have the faith that not only is He God, but that He will do what He has promised.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.