Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church
The readings for the day can be found here.
Vision is a common theme in the scripture readings for today. Through the prophet Isaiah, God promises that “out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see,” while the Psalmist confidently proclaims his hope in the Lord who is his “light and…salvation,” asking only that he “may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.” And in today’s Gospel, two blind men come to Jesus to seek—and obtain—their healing.
At first glance, this short passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew did not strike me in a particularly powerful way. However, as I continued to ponder these five brief verses, it was the image of these two blind men approaching Jesus together that remained with me. Perhaps there is something for us to be attentive to in this story of two companions who petition Jesus with a shared faith in his ability to heal, and who experience a shared encounter with Jesus resulting in new vision. Perhaps there is even something in this story for us to take to heart in a particular way at the end of this first week of Advent.
The beginning of a new liturgical year seems like an appropriate time to make “new year’s resolutions” concerning our faith. These resolutions usually have to do with being more committed to prayer and spiritual disciplines, and less prone to succumbing to our favorite sins and vices. Many of my own Advent resolutions are closely connected to my personal practice of faith: “I will do this less; I will do that more.” But I find that Matthew’s story of the two blind men challenges my somewhat individualistic approach to growing in my relationship with Christ. I am stirred by the sort of faith these two men have that prompts them to answer in unison, “Yes, Lord,” when Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I can do this?”
The Gospel narrative reminds me that the faith I call my own is not something I have arrived upon by myself: it has been formed by many faithful people, in addition to being mediated by the Church and its sacraments. The faith I profess is not a formula I have cobbled together on my own; I confess it in unison with a communion of saints throughout history and around the world. When I look back upon the twists and turns of my journey of faith, I realize that my own relationship with Christ is always linked in some way or another to my relationships with his people. So, as I enter into the second week of the Advent season this year, intent upon nurturing and strengthening my own spiritual life, today’s Gospel invites me to consider how my “Advent resolutions” draw me more deeply into a shared faith and shared encounter with Christ who heals and transforms my vision.