the Sunday before Lent
Augustine on a parallel Gospel
O LORD which dost teach us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
Quinquagesima is 50 days before Easter and the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Source of collect, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer . Reflects 1 Cor 13 on Charity. Replaced a Medieval prayer used on Shrove Tuesday, when penitents were shriven, that is absolved, of their sins
Today's Gospel concerns the miraculous healing of the blind man who cried out to Jesus, Lord have mercy on us, thou Son of David, as he passed by on the way to Jerusalem with his disciples. The crowd attempted to quiet the blind man, but he cried only louder. A very similar healing occurred in the Gospel of Matthew XX with two blind men.
Augustine examines this plea to our Lord in the homily at the link. Moreover, he recognizes that these types of events have "passed by" and are no more, but rather that another more profound healing of internal sight is to be realized by those who cry out for our Lord.
Now let us examine the following portion of his homily,
These things then the Lord did to invite us to the faith. This faith reigneth now in the Church, which is spread throughout the whole world. And now He worketh greater cures, on account of which He disdained not then to exhibit those lesser ones. For as the soul is better than the body, so is the saving health of the soul better than the health of the body. The blind body doth not now open its eyes by a miracle of the Lord, but the blinded heart openeth its eyes to the word of the Lord. The mortal corpse doth not now rise again, but the soul doth rise again which lay dead in a living body. The deaf ears of the body are not now opened; but how many have the ears of their heart closed, which yet fly open at the penetrating word of God, so that they believe who did not believe, and they live well, who did live evilly, and they obey, who did not obey; and we say, "Such a man is become a believer;" and we wonder when we hear of them whom once we had known as hardened. Why then dost thou marvel at one who now believes, who is living innocently, and serving God; but because thou dost behold him seeing, whom thou hadst known to be blind; dost behold him living, whom thou hadst known to be dead; dost behold him hearing, whom thou hadst known to be deaf? For consider that there are who are dead in another than the ordinary sense, of whom the Lord spake to a certain man who delayed to follow the Lord, because he wished to bury his father; "Let the dead," said He, "bury their dead." Surely these dead buriers are not dead in body; for if this were so, they could not bury dead bodies. Yet doth he call them dead; where, but in the soul within? For as we may often see in a household, itself sound and well, the master of the same house lying dead; so in a sound body do many carry a dead soul within; and these the Apostle arouses thus, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." It is the Same who giveth light to the blind, that awakeneth the dead. For it is with His voice that the cry is made by the Apostle to the dead, "Awake, thou that sleepest." And the blind will be enlightened with light, when he shall have risen again. And how many deaf men did the Lord see before His eyes, when He said, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." For who was standing before Him without his bodily ears? What other ears then did He seek for, but those of the inner man?
Do you believe in Miracles? I do. Indeed, I look at things much differently than 4o years ago and see the miraculous in many aspects of life; if not, intercessory prayer would be a bit foolish: wouldn't it? I think this quotation from C. S. Lewis in Miracles is telling,
Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary. Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those laws are known. We have already seen that if you begin by ruling out the supernatural you will perceive no miracles. We must now add that you will equally perceive no miracles until you believe that nature works according to regular laws. If you have not yet noticed that the sun always rises in the East you will see nothing miraculous about his rising one morning in the West. (pg. 75)
In these latter days we hear of miraculous healing events of faithful. Sometimes these are associated with visions, such as at Lourdes, France where 67 such reported cures there have been affirmed by the Roman Church. Other times we may hear of a complete and unexpected remedy or reversal of an incurable disease for which faithful have prayed-- a form of Faith Healing. In the orthodox and catholic church, healing prayers by ministers for the faithful are under the sacrament of "Unction" and are accompanied by the laying on of hands and with anointing. [James 5:14]
heals those who come to him in faith. Augustine describes these more profound healing events as he witnessed them in about 400 AD -- by opening eyes to God's light, ears to God's voice, and changing outward behavior.
"The ways by which the Holy Ghost leads men and women to Christ are wonderful and mysterious: He is often beginning in a heart a work which shall stand to eternity, when a looker-on observes nothing remarkable. In every work there must be a beginning, and in spiritual work that beginning is often very small." [J. C. Ryle]
Unfortunately there are traveling revival programs whose preachers, in the name of our Lord, falsely claim divine power to heal and sometime perform apparent physical manifestations on stage. They then make collections to enrich themselves and their programs relying on superstition, and thereby perpetuate the deceit. I commend this paper on this type of sham. Those who falsely invoke God have their reward.
Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]
* ORDO CENTURIONUM * IN HOC SIGNO VINCES * TIME DEUM ET OPERARE IUSTITIAM