Cycle A 3rd Sunday of Advent

 Is. 35:1-6a, 10; Jas. 5:7-10; Mt. 11:2-11

The First Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 35:1-6a, 10] echoed the anticipation of God's chosen people. In their perception of the coming of the promised Messiah, the people visualized a transformation of the physical world where the entire creation would rejoice. They envisioned blooming deserts that would manifest the glory of the Lord.

"The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them." 

Today’s Gospel reading explains the characteristics of the coming of God’s Kingdom.

The blinds receive their sight. Isaiah 35:5 had already prophesied this long ago. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.” In Psalm 146:8 we read “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind”. Jesus' ocular miracles are identified in three incidents. According to the New Testament, Jesus cured blind men in Jericho, Bethsaida and Siloam.

We cannot find an account in scripture of any prophet or apostle ever healing blindness. They healed all kinds of sickness and even raised people from the dead. But Jesus is the only one who has restored vision to the sightless. 

When Jesus made the blind see and He did for at least seven people He was fulfilling another aspect of messianic prophecy as the Messiah would open blind eyes (Is 35:5). But not only did this miracle fulfill an important Messianic prophecy from Isaiah, it also affirmed Jesus’ deity because as the psalmist said, “The LORD opens the eyes of the blind" (Psalm 146:8 cf. Isaiah 29:1). This is a clear affirmation that Jesus as the Messiah is the God-Man.

Blindness was widespread in the ancient Near East. The unusually large number of Talmudic sages who were blind probably reflects the wide prevalence of this disability in ancient times. 

Blindness is used with several metaphoric meanings in the Bible. Frequently it refers to the lack of intellectual or moral understanding (Is. 29:9–10, 18). Judges are warned that bribes, or gifts, blind the eyes of the discerning (Ex. 23:8; Deut. 16:19). Isaiah is told that his mission is to besmear the eyes of Israel so that it will not "see" and repent and be healed (6:10). In Isaiah 56:10 blindness refers to negligence, while in Numbers 16:14 putting out the eyes is usually taken to mean deceiving.

When the Kingdom of God is established, this dreadful condition will be overcome.

Another characteristics that the lame walk. In the Bible we see many Miracles of healing the lame.  Jesus healed the lame man. Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath. Jesus healed Jesus Healed the Paralyzed Man (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12)

Peter and John cured the lame. At the gate of the Temple of Jerusalem a lame man begging for alms is miraculously cured by Peter, who asks him to rise up and walk.

Loss of limb presents multi-directional challenges. It not only affects function and sensation, but also affects body image, and social and psychological well-being. But when the Kingdom of God is established this state is overcome. The lame will be cured and restored to perfect health.

Other characteristics are: The lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised. It is clear from Scripture that God has a role for us while we are on this earth awaiting the day when He calls us home to His kingdom and also after he sets up His kingdom on earth. Right now while we are on this earth, God tells us there are several things that he wants us to do. In the Old Testament, He told the Israelites to do several things (Deuteronomy 10:11-21; Ecclesiastes 12:13). He told them to go and take the land that God had given them. He told them to fear the Lord and walk in His ways. He told them to love Him and serve Him with all their heart and soul. He told them to keep the commandments. And, He told them to circumcise their hearts, love their neighbor, serve the Lord and cleave to Him.

The kingdom of God was central to the message of Jesus. He launched his public ministry by saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15). When Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth, we have roles. God requires each one of us to establish his reign. In this season of Advent accept the call of Jesus to submit ourselves to his divine plans.