My dear friends:

There is a phrase we hear frequently during these days of Advent, especially when we read the prophet Isaiah. On that day[1] Isaiah declares, on that day…the deaf shall hear…the eyes of the blind shall see…the meek shall obtain joy…the neediest people shall exult.[2] It is this Advent vision of justice, wholeness, and truth that Isaiah holds up before not only a disheartened, discouraged, and oppressed people of Israel, but also before those of us who read his words today.

It is perhaps fair to ask then, on what day? What day will this come about, and by whom?

That was a question foremost in the minds of Jesus’ audience. Even John the Baptist asked it. We hear in Matthew’s gospel that John sent disciples to Jesus asking are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?[3] It is to this question that Jesus answers go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.[4]

Part of the hope of Advent is the longing for that day when justice, wholeness, and truth shall be restored, when God’s people will again live in peace and security. It is a day for which we too long, and it is a day which is already here.

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him…and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes… and their eyes were opened.[5]

The healing of the blind in the gospels is not simply a cure, it is a sign. It is a sign that the day so longed for is here, when justice, wholeness, and truth is restored, and when God’s people again live in peace and security.

Father Benson reminds us that when Christ came into the world all was changed. Weakness became power; poverty became wealth; shame became glory; darkness became light.[6] It is by this light – the light that overcomes the darkness of the world[7] – that we see the One who is light, for Jesus is the light of the world.[8]

It is no ordinary healing that we see in the gospel, by which simple sight is restored. Rather it is a sign of that longed-for day when the eyes of the blind shall see. As a sign, it is also a gift. Father Benson reminds us that the vision of the light is a gift of God to the individual soul. “In His light we see light,” if we are the children of light. But the outward faculty sees not the light. God must fill us with Himself, in order that we may see Himself. We must believe in, or rather into, the light, that we may be the children of light.[9]

Like the people who first heard Isaiah’s words, we too long for that day when justice, wholeness, and truth shall be restored, and God’s people will again live in peace and security. We long for the peace and security of God’s rule, when death, disease, and pandemic are no more.

The paradox is that in Jesus, the day we long for is already here. For in Jesus, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them, if only we have the eyes of faith to see.

Father Benson reminds us that the vision of the light is a gift given to us in our Baptisms. These are dark days indeed, yet the promise of God is a promise of light that the darkness cannot overcome. May you receive the gift of sight this Advent, so that even in the darkness of the night, you can behold the light of God as it radiates from the face of the Holy Child of Bethlehem, giving light to our darkened world.

Know that we Brothers hold you in our prayers.

Faithfully in the One who is the light of the world,

James Koester SSJE
Superior


[1] Isaiah 29: 18
[2] Isaiah 29: 17 – 19
[3] Matthew 11: 3
[4] Matthew 11: 4 – 5
[5] Matthew 9: 27ff
[6] Benson, Richard Meux, Spiritual Readings, Advent, J. T. Hayes, London, 1885, page 49
[7] John 1: 5
[8] John 8: 12
[9] Benson, Advent, page 57 – 58

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