Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 27; Matthew 9:27-31
If we look first to the gospel readings at Mass during this first week of Advent it seems like a hodgepodge of unconnected readings taken from here, there, and everywhere in the gospels. What connects the readings? Why this selection this week? The solution to the problem seems to be that we should look first to the first reading during this first week of Advent and see there the thread or theme that holds the week together and that guides also the choice of gospel readings.
The first reading each day is from Isaiah, and from those first chapters of Isaiah where we find some of the great and classical messianic texts of the Old Testament. We hear about the One who is to come, the Messiah, a Saviour and Redeemer, who comes to restore and to renew life, all life and in particular human life, and human life in its fulness, which means life in relationship with God.
So from today's first reading we see that when Messiah comes the poor are helped, the humble rejoice, the blind see, the deaf hear, the dumb speak, the oppressed are set free ... these are the works of the Messiah, the practical ways in which His mission to restore and to renew life is translated into the individual lives of particular individuals. His coming will inaugurate a time of new and exceptional fertility.
The works of Jesus are clearly these works of the Messiah. In today's gospel reading he heals not one but two blind men. So often his miracles mean restoring the fundamental capacities for the fulness of life that human beings have. Not that they cannot have a fulness of life without these faculties, just that it is easier for them if they have them.
We might have imagined that such work would be met by universal rejoicing and acceptance but for reasons perverse and comprehensible - we all know sin in ourselves - it is not so and the steps of the Messiah are dogged by the ruthless and the mockers, the fearful and the complainers, and the work of making it possible for human beings to have life in its fulness inevitably takes the way of the cross.
But for the moment we are moving too quickly ahead, even though the ingredients of the final drama of Jesus' life are already given here. For now let us keep thinking about the little child who will come to lead us into a kingdom of justice and of peace, and later see how we can shoulder with him the crosses that need to be carried if the life of that kingdom is to be realised in our particular lives.