Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – 2019

My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!

In today’s Gospel we are again presented with our Lord’s power of healing, with which he continues even to this day to work within the world, healing bodily infirmities and – more importantly – the deadly spiritual sickness of sin. We read:

At that time: as Jesus was passing by, there followed Him two blind men crying out and saying, Have mercy on us, O Son of David.

The blind men had learned of the miracles which the Lord had done, of which we ourselves have read in recent weeks, and they rightly believed that He was the long-awaited Messias, of Whom they had often heard spoken in the Law and the Prophets, since they also had been raised in the jewish religion.

Now they came and followed after the Lord, crying out and saying, Son of David, have mercy on us; that is, Cure us, heal us who are sick and suffering, O all-powerful Lord. They called Him Son of David because this appellation was one of great honour. The prophets had often referred in such a way to the kings whom they wished to honour, paying them homage with this title; for David was the first among the kings to be well-pleasing to God, and he received the promise that the Christ Himself would arise from his lineage. Thus, in his great honour did the blind men use this title, one which was held in the greatest respect by the jews.

And though the blind men believed that Christ could do all things, they were not yet aware that He was God; hence, they did honour to Him as to a man, as many others did also, and yet this is also fitting, for our Lord is both true God and true Man.

And when He was come to the house, the blind men came to Him.

Our Lord led them and brought them right to the house, so that it would not appear to His detractors, the envious jews, that He made bold to work miracles as a fame-seeker, constantly doing wonders in the sight of crowds.

Our Lord, rather, did order all things wisely and wondrously, removing and eliminating any cause whatsoever for murmuring and accusation among the jews. The house into which the Lord entered was that of a faithful man, a friend and follower of our Lord, since our Lord Himself had no fixed abode.

Indeed, once a certain scribe came to our Lord and said, Master, Iwill follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest; and the Lord showed him that He was poorer than the foxes and the birds. The scribe, however, being a lover of money, imagined that our Lord collected much gold from His miracles, and thought that if he would follow Him as one of His disciples, he would amass great wealth. Christ knew what the man was thinking, and answered his thought, saying, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but I have no home, nor even anywhere to lay My head, and I desire the same from those that would be My followers.

Empty is the reasoning of that man, and in vain does one hope to acquire corruptible wealth by following Him, Who freely became poor and called the poor blessed. In such a way Christ taught the scribe two things to his profit, and we too may profit from the lesson; Firstly He showed that He knows the hidden thoughts of the heart, and that the man troubled himself in vain about seeking riches. But notice that our Lord did not give him an open rebuke, but planted the words of gentle reproach in him, so that the man would avoid public shame, and could be converted and follow Him spiritually, if only he so willed. In saying these words, the Lord did not forbid the man to follow Him, yet He taught him that he would not find the kind of profit which he sought, if he followed One Who taught love of the poor. The man then understood that he was found out; unable to obtain that which he sought, he kept silent.

Secondly, the fathers teach us that our Lord spoke not only naturally in referring to the foxes and the birds of the air, but also allegorically. By foxes and birds He refers to the demons, on account of their swiftness and slyness. For they seize by stealth the seeds and fruits of virtue. Thus our Lord said, as it were, in reproach: The demons have their burrows and nests within your own mind and soul, while I find no place at all to rest within you. The burrows and nests of the demons are the passions, in which they hide and they dwell.

Returning to the Gospel, we read:

And Jesus saith to them, Do you believe, that I can do this unto you?

The Lord asks the blind men a question, yet it was not because He Himself did not know the answer. Do you believe that I am able to do this, He said, meaning that which you are asking and seeking, Do you believe that I am able to “have mercy,” to heal you? He knew that they believed that He was able to do it; for why would they have followed after Him and entreated Him if they did not believe? Still, the Lord asks the question, in order that their faith might be made manifest, and that through them others also would be drawn to Him. For our Lord worked miracles not only for the sake of those who were suffering, but also even for the sake of those who simply saw them or heard of them. That includes us, today.

They say to Him, Yea, Lord.

Notice that here the blind men no longer call Christ Son of David, but Lord; at His question they soared to the heights of faith. Though faith is indeed one, it is nevertheless increased or decreased by knowledge or ignorance. There is nothing stronger than undoubting faith; and the one who seeks it will find the Lord merciful. As our Lord Himself says, If there is any man that doeth justice and seeketh faith, I shall be merciful to him, saith the Lord.

Then He touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith, be it done unto you. And their eyes were opened…

Christ makes their healing conditional on their faith, “according to your faith be it done unto you,” as He was wont to do in other cases also, stirring up and spurring on others to belief. He touches them with His hand, showing that His most holy Flesh also bestows light and life; for He is the Giver of life and light, the Treasury of good things. It is a great judgment upon the unbelieving jews that the blind men through hearing alone believed in Christ, whereas the faithless, though seeing His miracles, did not believe Him. Those with sight did not recognize the Son of David, whereas the sightless recognized Him, thus fulfilling what He Himself said: For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

And Jesus strictly charged them, saying, See that no man know this. But they going out, spread His fame abroad in all that country.

In His humility our Lord commanded the blind men to tell their story to no one; He did not desire that their healing be spoken of or seen by all. Nevertheless, even though He Himself did not wish them to do so, they made their story known, not out of disobedience, but to give thanks to their Physician, Christ. If elsewhere the Lord is seen to tell one who was cured, Go and tell of God’s glory, that is not contradicted here; for He does not wish us to say anything of ourselves, nor has He any need of our good, being God full of goodness. Those who have received favours He does not wish to keep silent, if their words be to the glory of God. If here the Saviour teaches us to reveal nothing, bidding the blind men tell no man what was done, this is because it was not unto God’s majesty and praise that such things be told. Still, when they that were healed told of their healing, they committed no sin, but rather testified that they possessed a good understanding of things. To say that I do not have the natural ability, but I received it from grace – this is a form of praise and exaltation.

It appears, then, that Christ fled the praise of men as an example, in order to teach those who do good to flee from vainglory. He knew with certainty that the blind men would not remain silent, but would openly proclaim their Benefactor, yet He accomplished His purpose, and commanded them to tell no man what had been done.

It is fitting that one who does good should enjoin silence, out of humility, but also that the beneficiaries of his goodness should acclaim their benefactor, out of appreciation, and not conceal his gifts. Moreover, the Lord did not simply open the blind men’s eyes, but the inner faculties of their souls. as well; for this reason they proclaimed and glorified His great wonders everywhere.

And when Christ was come, He bestowed upon all men the light of the knowledge of God, since He taught and wrought miracles with power, as the Almighty. Whenever the Prophets Worked miracles, they (first) prayed to God and asked His help, and then they performed most glorious signs; likewise, in latter times, the Apostles, bending their knees to the ground, prayed and effected divine signs. Christ, however, Himself gave commands to His creation, as the Master and Lord of all.

With all-powerful gestures He accomplishes all that He wishes; He bestows upon the blind, as we have said, both sensory light and the true and noetic light. Hence it was clear that this was He Who in the beginning of the world’s existence separated the darkness from the light.

Furthermore, He first seeks for faith; when He sees that a man has faith, then He bestows healing. He does not heal those who neither believe nor pray. As for us, then, brethren, who believe in the Maker and Creator and Lord, Who freed us from darkness and deception and the curse, and Who enlightened our souls and bodies, Who came Himself a light into the world—let us do the works of light and hate the works of darkness. Let us call to mind the future judgement; death draws near and approaches, when no man can work; for in hell there is no confession, no salvation for those who have not received them in this life.

Let us strive in every way to do good deeds, my friends and let us stir ourselves up at this time, so that we shall fittingly receive what is to come in the next life, the eternal life of the just and the rewards of the heavenly estate.

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