Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday of the First Week of Advent

(Isaiah 29:17-24, Matthew 9:27-31)

The Feast of St. Cajetan is celebrated with grand fanfare in Argentina.  In a video message three years ago Pope Francis expressed his longing to be there on the occasion.  He also encouraged the people to assist the poor like St. Cajetan did.  He told them that when they give alms, they should not just toss the coin to the poor person but put the coin in the poor person’s hand.  In today’s gospel Jesus restores the sight of the blind with a similar physical touch.

In curing the blind men Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading. The visionary speaks of the time when the tyrant will be overcome and the deprived will be made whole.  He probably has in mind the king of Assyria who was threatening the kingdom of Judah.  But the image can be universalized to mean all rulers who terrorize people.  The prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus who has conquered death to become the just sovereign of all.  Jesus also restores fullness to those with defects.  Very often in the gospels he works such wonders through physical contact.

We are now preparing for the truly awesome feast of Christmas.  If we do it well, we will take time to contemplate why God took on human flesh.  Was it not to show His love by becoming one of us?  Did he not wish to share the frustration we often have at home, at work, and even among friends?  More than feeling our pain, however, Jesus has come to relieve it as we hear today.  He is doing it for each of us as we lift a hand to help one another.