As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 28When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ 29Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’ 30And their eyes were opened.
There are many different ways to be blind even when you can officially “see.” We can be blind to that which we do not know. We can be blinded by pride, and not see things about ourselves. We can be blinded by fear, and close our eyes to truths that are too painful to confront. In each case, this blindness can cause us keep stumbling over the same issue over and over again.
Two blind men approach Jesus in Matthew 9:27-30. The fact that they approach him and follow him show that they have already overcome one effect blindness can have on us—the fear of stepping foot outside our own doors. They have heard of the wandering healer who has come through town, and they cry out to him in hope of healing, and they don’t give up until at last they speak directly to Jesus. They come to Jesus because they have allowed themselves to hope that Jesus can heal them, and restore them to wholeness within the community. They come to Jesus driven by faith. And they are not going to give up until they have asked for a miracle.
I sometimes think the biggest thing key to faith is that it is fed by and in turn encourages flat-out perseverance. “According to your faith let it be done to you,” says Jesus, and who here isn’t scared by the implication that if we don’t have enough faith, good things won’t happen, or that if we go through periods of time when we question our faith, we will be punished for our doubt, as if doubt is equivalent to giving up?
Faith takes a look at the odds, and laughs—or at least lowers its head and squares its shoulders to push on anyway. Sometimes faith is as threadbare as the wings on a grasshopper in October. Faith doesn’t mean we are whisked away from pain or problems: just like that ragged grasshopper, faith just carries us across and through those problems. Faith is what enables us, even as when we are wearied, to eventually be strong enough to take another step.
While some critics argue that faith is believing in fairy tales, we are reminded of another possibility in that last sentence in the story of the two blind men: Faith is hope put into motion. Faith dares us to believe in something greater than ourselves and all we may know at this moment. Faith helps us to know that seeing can sometimes be deceiving: the candle seems brightest and boldest not in the daytime but in the darkness.
Faith is being willing to open our eyes to the goodness embedded in creation and in the stranger sitting next to us, and to leave ourselves open to that goodness even when it is messy and imperfect. The things we believe are like stepping-stones across a stream, and faith is what impels us to step out on that first, slippery, moss-covered one and then helps us keep our balance as we move to the next one. Faith doesn’t promise us that we won’t get wet. Faith gives us the will to move ahead and see what happens even when the way seems anything but straight. Faith is less about leaping and more often for most of us about staggering unsteadily from one fork in the road to the next.
Faith doesn’t always have to appear reasonable to those on the outside. Faith doesn’t seek to numb us to reality or denounce the known world for the next. The promise of mercy, the hope of healing, can leave us vulnerable, but opens up the possibility, not of perfection, but of healing. Amen.
Leslie Scoopmire is a retired teacher and postulant for the priesthood in the Diocese of Missouri. She attends Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, MO. She is a member of and musician at the Church of the Holy Communion in University City, Missouri, in the Diocese of Missouri, and tweets daily prayers and news of note @HolyCommUCity. Her blog is Abiding in Hope.
Image: by Leslie Scoopmire