Friday in the First Week of Advent

Advent is a time of expectation, a time of hope. During the first two weeks of Advent, the Old Testament readings direct that hope. Isaiah directs the experience of powerlessness to confidence in God and the gospel shows its fulfillment.

Isaiah says the deaf and the blind shall be healed, the poor and the lowly will rejoice. Their interior life will change when they see the work of His hands. That interior must have faith. That is what Jesus most seeks and, finding that, He restores perception.

Perception is the ability to notice the morally relevant features of a situation and the readiness to respond appropriately. Christian life begins with God’s approach to us, not with our initiative. We must notice it!

The men with restored sight not only notice God’s attention to them, they now have the ability to respond to it by becoming able to keep the two great love commandments, i.e., they are now able to be useful to God and neighbor. In those days, both secular and religious authorities eliminated people with disabilities from making contributions or participating.

The physical disabilities in these stories are metaphors for the spiritual disability of sin, of self-centeredness that blocks our ability to let the love commandments guide our living. This freedom from self and for others is a gift of God. It is given for His glory.

It is given to one individually and it is given to communities. We can ask it of the One who knows how we are made. We can say “Our Creator, we are now willing that you should have all of us, good and bad. We pray that you remove from us anything that stands in the way of our usefulness to you and to one another. Grant us strength as we go forth to do your bidding.” And of course, we ask this through Christ, our Lord.