Perseverance and Trust
Friday December 6, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week of Advent
Reading (Isaiah 29:17-24) Gospel (St. Matthew 9:27-31)
In the Gospel reading today we hear about these blind men who come to Our Lord asking to be healed, and we see something in Our Lord that might strike us as a little bit startling at first. That is, He does not pay any attention to them and, in fact, makes two blind men follow Him all the way until He gets home. Then, finally, He turns and says, “Do you really believe that I can do this?” and they have to say “yes”. So they cried out after Him, “Son of David, have pity on us!” and He just kept walking.
Now I think we have probably all experienced the same thing in our own lives, over and over again. That is, we go to prayer, we ask the Lord for something – and it seems pretty evident to us that this is something that is a real need we have – and He seems simply to ignore it. We keep going back to prayer and we start getting frustrated sometimes, saying, “But Lord, I’ve been asking for this and You’re not answering!” And He says, “Do you have the faith that I can do this?”
But, for us, it is not so much the question of whether we have the faith that He can do it, the question is, do we have the faith in who He is and that He is there? We know He can do whatever He wants; the problem is, when we do not get an immediate answer, sometimes we begin to question and to doubt and to wonder. And the Lord requires that we continue to follow, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on me!” We have to follow Him like these blind men did, perhaps for a long time, which appears to be particularly cruel considering that these men were blind. They could not see the way they were walking, and yet He made them follow Him. He made them make that act of faith to be able to show just how much they really wanted what they were asking for. It was not just some kind of flippant request that they had: “Well, if I get it, that’s nice. If I don’t, it’s no big deal.” But rather, He made them demonstrate that this was something they really desired. When they had made that demonstration clearly and continued to follow after Him, asking for the same thing, and they made that act of faith: “Yes, I believe that You can do this,” then it was done for them.
And so we have a lesson for ourselves, then, that as we go to prayer and we ask the Lord for various things, He sometimes does not answer right away. He sometimes requires that we keep coming back, that we keep asking the same thing, that we demonstrate our faith in who He is and what He is able to do before He is going to provide it for us. Not because the thing we were asking for is unimportant, but because our faith is far more important and He wants to develop that. He wants us to really look at the question, first of all, of how much do we really want what we are asking for, and secondly, how much do we believe that He is the only one who can do it for us? That is the part we have to understand.
That is exactly what the prophet Isaiah is getting at: that we are going to see His work in our midst, that we will reverence the Holy One of Jacob and be in awe of the God of Israel, that we will acquire a spirit of understanding – all these things that are being promised. It is not always the way we think it is going to be. Again, we would like all those things simply infused, but the Lord teaches us in the ordinary way by making us work at it. All of the promises of the Lord are going to be fulfilled, but we have to be able to recognize our need and His divinity and His goodness before we are ever going to be able to understand exactly what it is that we are all about: how small we are, and who He really is. That is what this is about: for us to recognize Him, for us to recognize our own self for who we really are and learn to rely solely on Him, to call out to Him over and over, and to follow Him in our blindness. Son of David, have pity on us!
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.