If you visit Capernaum today, you will find only find а heap of rocks and ruins. Only the foundation stones of buildings remain, indicating the location and size of homes where people once lived and died; the synagogue where people worshipped God; and the narrow streets upon which people walked.
This is the place where Peter the Apostle lived. It was his home town. And we know today, the exact location of Peter’s house. Archeological digs in the past century have uncovered the ruins of a unique 4th century Byzantine Church, build in the shape of an octagon. Why? Because it was built around a small house and enclosing that house within its walls. Various inscriptions in stone indicate this house was the original house of St. Peter.
Peter’s house in Capernaum is also the place where Jesus lived for some time after leaving his hometown of Nazareth. The healing of the two blind men that we heard in today’s Gospel probably took place in Peter’s house, when Jesus had returned.
Jesus does not respond
Hearing today’s gospel reading, we can picture Jesus returning home to Capernaum after a very long day of teaching, healing, and being constantly in the presence of people. As he makes his way home amidst his disciples, not far behind him, are two blind beggars who are somehow following and continually shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us.” It is interesting, however, that Jesus at first, shows no response to the pleas of the two blind men. They continue to cry out to him with persistence. Jesus hears them, but he does not stop to speak to them, as if Jesus is ignoring them, it is as if testing their faith and their determination to be healed.
It was not until after Jesus had come into the house, that the blind men finally caught up to him. Somehow, they managed to keep up and to persistently followed Jesus all the way home.
Jesus heals the blind men
It is then that Jesus turns to them and says, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
The question seems strange at first… These two blind men were acknowledging that Jesus was the Messiah. Even though they were physically blind, they were already seeing something that only a few were seeing at that time. They knew in their hearts that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Christ – the Anointed One of God.
Without much fanfare or drama, Jesus simply touches their eyes and says, “Be it done to you according to your faith.” In other words, let what you believe happen to you; and because of their faith, their eyes were opened and they were healed of their blindness.
Jesus then strictly warns them not to let anyone else know about this. Of course, the issue here is not silence about the healing, but silence about acknowledging Jesus as the “Son of David,” the promised Messiah. Why did Jesus prevent them from doing this we do not know for sure… Obviously, Jesus had his reasons.
If they had boldly called Jesus the “Son of David” before they were healed, now they declared it even with greater courage. This would be an example of “blessed disobedience.” They disobeyed Jesus’ warning out of gratefulness to him. They went about, telling everyone that the Messiah, the Son of David, had healed them from their blindness.
Learning from the blind men to be persistent in our
The persistence and determination of the two blind men in today’s Gospel is very impressive. If they had given up along the way, they would not have been healed that day. It was their faith, their persistence and determination that made them irresistible in the eyes of God.
There are times in life when we turn to God with a special request or a petition, and one short prayer will just not do. Instead, Jesus will silently wait for us to affirm our faith, our persistence and determination. And that means following him blindly every day, seeking him out, continuing to cry out to him in prayer, even when it seems like he is not listening. It may take months, or it may even take years of persistence prayer, sacrifice and faithfulness. But in the end, our prayers will be answered. “Let it be done according to your faith”.
Although we see the physical world around us, we are all blind today to the reality of the spiritual world around us. We do not see God, nor do we see His angels, nor do we see the cherubim and the seraphim that surround the altar today as we prepare to celebrate the Eucharist. Like the blind men, we struggle to keep up and to persistently follow Jesus to the place where he dwells. Jesus is leading us into His kingdom. One day, at the sound of his voice and at the touch of his hand, our eyes will be opened and we shall see Him face to face.
No doubt, we have prayed for something and have felt that God wasn’t listening. It’s not that God didn’t hear us. He always hears us. But it may be the case that he is patiently waiting for to affirmed our faith, to show our persistence and determination, and to follow Him all the way home.
In some things, one short prayer, one Our Father, one Rosary or even one Divine Liturgy will not enough. It may take not only several months of persistent prayer, but maybe even several years. In the end, the words of Jesus still ring true today,
“Let it be done to you according to your faith.”