Tuesday, August 18, 2009

29. Believing Leads to Seeing (Mt 9:27-35)

“Therefore, that shining light of which has been lit for our salvation must always shine in us.”

- St Chromatius

Matthew 9:27-35

As Jesus went on his way two blind men followed him shouting, ‘Take pity on us, Son of David’. And when Jesus reached the house the blind men came up with him and he said to them, ‘Do you believe I can do this?’ They said, ‘Sir, we do’. Then he touched their eyes saying, ‘Your faith deserves it, so let this be done for you’. And their sight returned. Then Jesus sternly warned them, ‘Take care that no one learns about this’. But when they had gone, they talked about him all over the countryside. They had only just left when a man was brought to him, a dumb demoniac. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb man spoke and the people were amazed. ‘Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel’ they said. But the Pharisees said, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts out devils’. Jesus made a tour through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness.

Christ the Lord

With this passage, St. Matthew finishes his narration of ten miracles performed in the aftermath of the Sermon on the Mount, in confirmation of the trustworthiness of what was said in that sermon, as it were. These last two miracles mark the final flourish on this section of the Gospel, showing that nothing, absolutely nothing, is excluded from Christ’s saving mission.

Jesus doesn’t come to rescue bits and pieces of broken humanity; he comes to gather it all into a new, everlasting Kingdom. His redemption actually brings good out of evil. If evil – whether on a grand scale of human history or on the smaller scale of individual human lives – were able to damage our humanity beyond the possibility of restoration, we would have no reason to hope. Jesus, however, shows that God’s loving goodness is far superior to evil. Those who let him into their lives discover not only forgiveness, security, and relief, but a profound renewal that gradually extends to every corner of their being. The Lord is Savior, but he is also Redeemer.

Christ the Teacher

Jesus works in our lives according to a plan. He knows what he is doing, just as he knew what he was doing during the days of his public life.

He orders the two blind men to keep the miracle under wraps. This is a frequent injunction, especially in the Gospel of Mark. He knew that the Israelites’ hearts had been hardened and confused through the centuries, so he was gradually revealing his full identity and the full extent of his mission. He wanted time to train his closest disciples, and he wanted freedom of action – all of which could be compromised if news of his miracles sparked precipitous action from the authorities or spawned too quickly a suffocating wave of wonder-loving crowds. Although his heart couldn’t resist the desperate, faith-filled appeals of the suffering people he came to save, he was nevertheless following a clear strategy.

Just so, he works in our lives intelligently, gradually, strategically. But we can’t see the whole plan – it’s too big and bright for our mortal gaze. And so we have to learn to simply travel along by his side like the disciples, listening, obeying, and trusting, carrying out one piece of the plan at a time.

Christ the Friend

The Pharisees were unbelieving. They didn’t want to believe in a Messiah that didn’t fit their preconceived ideas, so they found ways to justify their resistance – if Jesus drives out demons, he must be possessed by a stronger demon, that’s all. Imagine how Christ’s heart reacted to those accusations, such stubborn resistance to his grace. Imagine how he reacts to the disbelief of so many people who refuse to see the signs of his love and truth in our world today.

When a friend is in pain, you do whatever you can to comfort him. Christians can comfort Christ by keeping their own faith fresh and, above all, by living a real, practical, and universal Christian charity. That’s the only way to lay a successful siege against the world’s many barricaded hearts – breaching their walls with love, so the gift of faith can come streaming in.

Christ in My Life

You have let me see some miracles, Lord. You have given me experiences that can have no other explanation than yourself. Don’t let me forget them, Lord; let them nourish my faith. I believe in your saving power and your continued presence. Thank you for the amazing things you have done in my life. Pray for me, Holy Mother of God, that I may be made worthy of the love of Christ…

Lord, there are people in my life who are blind, who are mute, who are trapped in the darkness of sin. Jesus, I pray for them now. Free them, enlighten them, as you have done with me. Free me, too; keep enlightening me. I want to comfort you, Lord, with my faith and charity. Teach me to bear the torch of your love. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you…

These two blind men prayed so simply, so faithfully, and so directly! “Son of David, take pity on us!” Lord, have pity on me. You know my misery and my blindness. I believe that you can heal me. I believe that you can make me into a saint. You can do all things, Lord…

Yours in Christ, Father John Bartunek, LC

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