What is the relationship between faith and good works? This has always been a difficult issue. Some may say they have faith, while being criticized even by their own children that they never put it into action. Others have tremendous action but would deny that it comes from their faith.
The two blind men in the Gospel today are healed "because of their faith." The question Jesus asks them, "Are you confident I can do this?" seems a verbal confirmation to something which is much deeper. For if they weren’t confident that Jesus could do this, then why would they have risked walking the journey behind Jesus shouting at him, "Son of David have pity on us!" I would think it would be very difficult for a blind person to walk down a narrow stony path at the rate a person with vision can walk. A blind person would have to be assured of every step along the path. This would take more time. So to move faster would involve physical risk even to the point of recklessness and endangerment. Even though the Gospel says they were traveling in pairs, it would take great motivation to try to keep up the pace and to persistently call out. So when Jesus says, "Because of your faith it shall be done to you," certainly the action of trying to walk, shouting out, and not quitting, spoke louder than a simple question, "Are you confident I can do this?"
But the deeper issue is, are we willing to pursue Jesus in our blindness? Isaiah, in the first reading prophesies, "Out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see." And he goes on to add, "When his children see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel." Isn’t this what vision does? It brightens our insight, understanding, wonder and awe.
The origin of Advent was a time of sitting in darkness, perhaps even getting more in touch with our blindness. And in that darkness we light more and more candles and chant, "Oh come, oh come Emmanuel." Come into our darkness, come into our blindness, come and illumine our lack of faith so that our praise of you will be more authentic and our illumination of you will resound with reverence and awe. Then the works we do will be a result of the faith we have in you!
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is on the staff at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, California.