Commentary on the Gospel of
“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.”
Blind, deaf, lame, and mute. This is how Isaiah, the psalmist, and Matthew the evangelist help us describe life without God. Nearly lifeless, it would seem! All these words imply being cut off in some way, longing for connection. (I am speaking symbolically here. When one avenue of communication is unavailable, we find different ways to connect when it matters.)
If I couldn’t see, I may not know where I am in relation to the world, or to others. I may not be able to read facial expressions or body language as part of communicating with someone. I may not be able to share a sight, a vision, with someone else. (“Do you see what I see?” “Well… no.”) Light would not touch me through my senses. Figuratively speaking, I may be closed in on myself and my own perceptions, unable to acknowledge the presence of another.
If I couldn’t hear, my world may be silent save my own thoughts. I may not be able to understand the tone or inflection of another’s words. I may not be able to acknowledge someone trying to reach me, even if they are shouting as loud as they can. Vibrations through the air would not carry the same meaning to me as they would for those who hear. Figuratively, I may not be able to receive the message someone wants to give me.
If I couldn’t move, I may be unable to walk with someone. I may observe their experiences, but not share the same experience with them. I may be dependent on others for basic care. I may not be able to express myself through movement. I may not feel free, but rather captive and confined.
If I couldn’t speak, I may be unable to share my thoughts and feelings with others. I may not participate in communal cheers or songs. I may feel as though no one acknowledges or values me, since I cannot speak up for myself. I may not be able to respond when asked a question, or when called.
Dark, silent, and still: a world defined by absence, albeit a world in which many of us could finally listen and rest, given our often hectic lives. Isaiah, the psalmist, and Jesus say that with God, our world is defined by presence. Where there was dryness, abundant life! Where there was blindness, light and vision! Where there was deafness, understanding and relationship! Where there was paralysis and captivity, dancing and leaping in freedom! Where there was not even speech, singing in joyful response! Rejoice! Gaudete!
I am glad for James reminding me in the second reading that such joy is worth waiting for. We are still in the midst of Advent, the season of waiting, of preparing in joyful anticipation. The rose vestments today are a reminder of the first rays of dawn. In the meantime, before the sun is up, we are called to “make our hearts firm” in order to walk with God through the desert, and to work with God on the fields that will bear fruit.