1st Week of the Advent
1st Reading: Is 29:17-24
Thus says the Lord God: But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; All who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a man, Who ensnare his defender at the gate, and leave the just man with an empty claim. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of the house of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham: Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale. When his children see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel. Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.
Gospel: Mt 9:27-31
As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.
FAITH IN GOD BRINGS JOY: The blind are prevented from seeing the wonders of creation due to lack of light. Such a disability is often used in Scriptures to designate people who have not received the light of faith. People who lack faith in the living God prevent themselves from seeing the great deeds and this makes them spiritually blind. The only one who can remove their blindness is God. The two blind men recognize their shortcomings and cry to Jesus: “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” They come to Jesus to receive their sight, but also to receive the gift of faith in him. The result of receiving sight is great joy, and such gift must be proclaimed everywhere, just like the blind people that received back their sight did. Proclaiming the gift of light received from God begins by a person changing his/her lifestyle. One strives only to do God’s will.
Prayer: Have mercy on us, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God
GOD CAN TOUCH US THROUGH POVERTY AS WELL AS THROUGH PLENTY: Today is the memorial of St. Francis Xavier (1506 -1552). He evangelized in India, Malacca, Japan and China. He was born in a princely family of Basque country in Spain. He adopted poverty as a religious. While in Japan he found that poverty was not respected in feudal Japan. He thought poverty was a hindrance to the mission. However, on one occasion, when meeting with a local prince, he dressed himself finely and made his fellow missionaries to wait on him. This improved his reputation with the prince and the prince gave entry for mission. In the Gospel, Jesus reduced Himself to be poor. He treats the blind to raise them from poverty. Poverty, richness, health and illness are a means of mission. Salvation is for the blind, lowly, joyful and sorrowful.
PRAYER: Lord, touch me today. Come to me in any means like health, illness, richness, poverty, joy and sorrow.
STAYING AHEAD OF THE GAME: ‘Have mercy on us’ is a constant prayer of those who know and believe that now God only can do. They want God to act now. May be they have run from pillar to post to get the healing. They entered the house with him, they followed in his steps, were adamant, persistent. When tested, they declared a bold yes. We believe you can heal us. For any miracle to really take place that essential condition ‘faith’ is a must. Jesus ensures that these two felt a crying need and believed. Once, a disciple of a famous sage was jailed on an allegation. The sage said: believe in me, I will bring you back after proving you innocent. But after a month the disciple dug a tunnel under the walls and escaped the prison. He reported at his master’s place. You see, I believed in my ability and here I am in front of you. Today, Christians do believe, believe in the power of God. But they are not ready to risk themselves in His hands. They just think they can play it smart on their own. How many of us will trust our lives in His hands? Jesus challenges us each: “Do you believe I can do this?”
SPEAKING ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD: These words are more common in the Gospel of Mark; “Do not tell anyone.” It is referred to as “the Messianic Secrecy.” However, a similar tone is present in the gospel text of today from the Gospel of Matthew. The strange phenomenon, however, is that every time Jesus would tell someone, “Do not tell anyone”, they would just go and speak all the more about what had happened to them in their encounter with Jesus. Why? One who has experienced God in Jesus cannot keep quiet. They need to talk about it. Yes, evangelization is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. It is like the crows of the coastal regions of East Africa, when they find food, they have to cry out calling on their colleagues to come and share. Do we do that about Jesus? If we do not, why not? Is it because we have not really experienced God in Jesus?