Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Apostle writes regarding Sacred Scripture that it is written for us, for our spiritual benefit, “for our learning,” he says. Why? So that “we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Sacred Scripture is critical for faith, St. Paul says elsewhere in Romans. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rm. 10:17). The Sacred Scriptures, inspired by God, the Apostle tells us in another of his Epistles, are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tm. 3:16-17). Indeed, the Sacred Scriptures are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tm. 3:15). The Almighty Lord has seen fit, then, to preserve for His Church a record of His mighty saving deeds throughout the ages for us and for our salvation (1 Cr. 10:11). It is for good reason – for this reason – that the same holy Apostle Paul exhorts us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, . . .” (Co. 3:16). Or, if you will, “Let Christ the Word of God tabernacle in your heart and soul and mind profoundly, filling you with Himself Who is the Wisdom, the Word, and the Power of God” (Divine Liturgy Troparion).
It behooves us, therefore, beloved, to be steeped in the holy words of God or rather that they be deep in us, making each of us the friends of God, the dutiful servants of the Lord, His brothers and sisters. St. Jerome admonishes us who might think otherwise: “Ignorance of Scripture,” he declares bluntly as was his nature, “is ignorance of Christ!” We can know Christ God only insofar as we know His Word (and I’m not speaking purely academic knowledge here). Knowledge of God is a spiritual knowledge that can be attained only through prayer and devotion, through prayer and the meditating on Sacred Scripture within the Tradition of the Church (Jn. 17:1-26). As St. Paul’s iconic partner, St. Peter, counsels us, “[N]o prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pe. 1:20-21). Sacred Scripture has been given by God to His Church, “which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth” (1 Tm. 3:15) for all of the profitable reasons cited beforehand.
The Pharisees knew Scripture well or so they fancied. They failed, however, to see Jesus Christ of Whom all of Sacred Scripture points to and is all about, even as Jesus demonstrated in the days following His Resurrection (Lk. 24:25-27, 44-45; Jn. 5:46). “’You search the Scriptures,’” our Lord said to them, ‘’for in them you think you have Eternal Life; and these testify of Me.’” He goes on to show us why the Pharisees – and others like them! – miss the point: it is because “’you are not willing to come to Me . . . .,’” He says (Jn. 5:39-40).
And today’s Holy Gospel is a case in point. Between the Pharisees noted and the two blind men, who has the greater sight? Who has the greater insight into Jesus Christ? The Pharisees couldn’t have gotten it more wrong alleging that Jesus was casting out demons by the ruler of demons! They misunderstood the Saviour’s actions because they were steadfastly opposed to Him because they failed to know the Sacred Word of God. In fact, on at least two occasions our Lord challenged them to believe the works that He did if they couldn’t bring themselves to believe in Him (Jn. 10:37-38; 14:10-11). Why? Because the works Jesus went about doing are the very works of the Father. They bear Him witness. The Father testifies to His Son by the very works Jesus was doing in the midst of the world. However, as Jesus warns, “’You have neither heard [the Father’s] voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His Word abiding in you, because Whom He sent, Him you do not believe’” (Jn. 5:36-38). “Ignorance of Sacred Scripture is ignorance of Christ!”
But, the blind men knew. They knew Who this Jesus was and is. “’Thou Son of David, have mercy on us!,’” they cried out to Him as He passed them by. The title, Son of David, is a Messianic title not applied liberally to just anyone passing by. It is specific of the Messiah, to the Christ of God, the Father’s Anointed One prophesied of old. And, the blind men knew based upon the works of the Kingdom of God they had personally heard about in the healing of the woman with an issue of blood and in the raising of Jairus’ little girl from the dead (Mt. 9:18-26). They followed Jesus because the witness of Jesus had spoken to their hearts and they knew Him by faith to be the Son of David long awaited by Israel.
But, the Pharisees didn’t know despite His mighty saving acts of preaching, teaching, and healing. They accused the Son of God and great Conqueror of sin, death, and the devil of being in league with the devil himself! That was how they explained what they witnessed. “’He casteth out the devils through the prince of the devils.’” That was the best these Biblical scholars could do, so blinded they were by their preconceived notions!
Because the Word of God did not tabernacle in them God could not have His way with them and they were denied faith by their own doing! Common sense alone should have made them think again. A little later on Jesus will have yet another chance to answer their ongoing accusation that by Satan He casts out Satan’s henchmen. On that occasion, He will reason, “’Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?’” Jesus goes on: “’And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the Kingdom of God has come upon you’” (Mt. 12:25-28).
We do not need physical eyes to have faith in the Son of God our Saviour, to know the Kingdom of God has come upon us. And yet, how great is the faith of these blind men who, seeing not still believe, while we, like the Pharisees, demand (or need) more (Hilary of Portiers)? What we need are simply hearts willing to be moved by the Spirit of God Who bears the Son of the Father witness. The Pharisees, however, ominously resisted to the point of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is the sin that cannot be forgiven, “’either in this age or the age to come’” (Mt. 12:31-32). For whatever reasons known only to the Pharisees – and to others who walk in their ways – they preferred darkness to light, and so their souls were dark and unyielding to the Spirit of God (Mt. 12:33-37; Jn. 3:18-21). “’If therefore the light that is in you is darkness,’” warns our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount, “’how great is that darkness!’” (Mt. 6:22-23).
But, great is the light that dwells in the hearts of those two blind men who willingly followed Jesus, imploring His royal mercy, and finally calling Him by faith, “’Lord.’” They believe in Jesus the Christ, the Messiah sent by the Father. What their eyes could not see, their hearts knew by faith. They had heard of the mighty saving deeds of God and they followed in faith. It is this faith that is critical to their healing of soul and body. “’According to your faith, be it unto you,’” Jesus says. “And their eyes were opened” – eyes of both soul and body (Hilary of Portiers).
Faith is absolutely critical if we are to be followers of this Jesus. Faith is absolutely essential for us to be Christian – and to remain Christian – in the midst of this world increasingly opposed to faith, to the Faith. It is belief in Jesus that leads us to do His words. It is faith in Him that feeds our love for Him and His Father. It is this faith, nurtured by Sacred Scripture and engendered by it, that gives us hope in the God Whose words are harbored safely in our souls (Rm. 15:1-7).
And they “spread abroad [Jesus’] fame in all that country,” despite our Lord’s stern warning to the contrary. God, beloved, “has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love” (Co. 1:13) “that you may proclaim the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Once, you “had not obtained mercy, but now [like those blind men] you have [indeed] obtained mercy” by faith in the Son of God the Saviour of the world (Jn. 4:42; 1 Pe. 2:9-10).
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!