The Mass readings Advent have always been favorites of mine for the themes they frequently address, particularly God’s great reversals – where the proud and mighty are cast down and the lowly lifted up – as well as God’s restoring to wholeness those who suffer in this world.
In today’s readings, both the Prophet Isaiah and Saint Matthew address the consequences of these great reversals and restorations to wholeness, when – through God’s saving action – people who are blind and deaf are changed into people with open ears and seeing eyes. And as important as these miracles were to the individuals healed of their afflictions in the natural realm, these actions on God’s part – with the Holy Word now audible to the deaf, and those once blind returned to unfettered sight that pierces the darkness – continue to have a profound spiritual significance today.
In this terribly divided, not quite post-pandemic world where needs are so great and resources too few, the darkness of war, poverty, disease and prejudice too often blind us to the real needs of others, and the deafening cacophony of our modern world distracts us from hearing their cries for help. As much as when the Biblical narratives were first written, what is needed today is a restoration of vision that clearly sees the dignity of every human person we encounter, and ears that can listen beyond that which divides to hear the voices of our brothers and sisters that make up our one global human family.
In essence, this is the work of Catholic Charities every day, not just at Advent, but throughout the year: to see beyond divisions, observing the dignity of every person and hearing and responding to those who suffer; seeing beyond poverty and responding to the cry of the poor; seeing beyond borders, war and violence and responding to those who seek safety for themselves and their families; seeing beyond bars and responding to those still incarcerated, their families and those returning to society; seeing beyond disability, age and infirmity, and responding with compassion to those in need of healing and care.
This Advent, may God bless us with a clarity of vision to see, and open our ears to hear and respond to those around us as brothers and sisters in our one human family.
Tom Dobbins Jr. is the Director of Social and Parish Engagement for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, a Producer for the “JustLove” radio broadcast on Sirius/XM’s Catholic Channel 129, and a Board Member of the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors.