Seventh Sunday of Matthew - 9:27-35
By St. John Chrysostom
(Homily 32 on Matthew)
"And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed Him, crying, and saying, 'Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.' And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him: and Jesus says unto them, 'Believe ye that I am able to do this?' They say unto Him, 'Yea, Lord.' Then touched He their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith be it unto you.' And their eyes were opened."
Wherefore can it be that He puts them off, and they crying out? Here again teaching us utterly to repel the glory that comes from the multitude. For because the house was near, He leads them there to heal them in private. And this is evident from the fact, that He charged them moreover to tell no man.
But this is no light charge against the Jews; when these men, though their eyes were struck out, receive the faith by hearing alone, but they beholding the miracles, and having their sight to witness what was happening, do all just contrary. And see their earnestness also, both by their cry, and by their prayer itself. For they did not merely approach Him, but with loud cries, and alleging nought else but "mercy."
And they called Him "Son of David," because the name was thought to be honorable. In many passages, for instance, did the prophets likewise so call the kings, whom they wished to honor, and to declare great.
And having brought them into the house, He puts to them a further question. For in many cases He made a point of healing on entreaty, lest any should suppose Him to be rushing upon these miracles through vainglory: and not on this account alone, but to indicate also that they deserve healing, and that no one should say, "If it was of mere mercy that He saved, all men ought to be saved." For even His love to man has a kind of proportion; depending on the faith of them that are healed. But not for these causes only does He require faith of them, but forasmuch as they called Him "Son of David," He to lead them up to what is higher, and to teach them to entertain the imaginations they ought of Himself, says, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" He did not say, "Believe ye that I am able to entreat my Father, that I am able to pray" but, "that I am able to do this?"
What then is their word? "Yea, Lord." They call Him no more Son of David, but soar higher, and acknowledge His dominion.
And then at last He for His part lays His hand upon them, saying, "According to your faith be it unto you." And this He does to confirm their faith, and to show that they are participators in the good work, and to witness that their words were not words of flattery. For neither did He say, "Let your eyes be opened," but, "According to your faith be it unto you;" which He says to many of them that came unto Him; before the healing of their bodies, hastening to proclaim the faith in their soul; so as both to make them more approved, and to render others more serious.
Thus with respect to the sick of the palsy also; for there too before giving nerve to the body, He raises up the fallen soul, saying, "Son, be of good cheer, your sins be forgiven you." And the young damsel too, when He had raised her up, He detained, and by the food taught her her Benefactor; and in the case of the centurion also He did in like manner, leaving the whole to his faith; and as to His disciples again, when delivering them from the storm on the sea, He delivered them first from their want of faith. Just so likewise in this case: He knew indeed, even before their cry, the secrets of their mind; but that He might lead on others also to the same earnestness, He makes them known to the rest as well, by the result of their cure proclaiming their hidden faith.
Then after their cure He commands them to tell no man; neither does He merely command them, but with much strictness.
"For Jesus," it is said, "strictly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad His fame in all that country." Matthew 9:30-31
They however did not endure this, but became preachers, and evangelists; and when bidden to hide what had been done, they endured it not.
And if in another place we find Him saying, "Go your way, and declare the glory of God," that is not contrary to this, but even highly in agreement herewith. For He instructs us to say nothing ourselves, concerning ourselves, but even to forbid them that would eulogise us: but if the glory be referred to God, then not only not to forbid, but to command men to do this.
2. "And as they went out," it is said, "behold, they brought unto Him a dumb man possessed with a devil."
For the affliction was not natural, but the device of the evil spirit; wherefore also he needs others to bring him. For he could neither make entreaty himself, being speechless, nor supplicate others, when the evil spirit had bound his tongue, and together with his tongue had fettered his soul.
For this cause neither does He require faith of him, but straightway heals the disease.
"For when the devil was cast out," it says, "the dumb spoke: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, 'It was never so seen in Israel.'" Matthew 9:33
Now this especially vexed the Pharisees, that they preferred Him to all, not only that then were, but that had ever been. And they preferred Him, not for His healing, but for His doing it easily and quickly, and to diseases innumerable and incurable.
And thus the multitude; but the Pharisees quite contrariwise; not only disparaging the works, but saying things contradictory to themselves, and not ashamed. Such a thing is wickedness. For what say they?
"He casts out devils through the prince of the devils."
What can be more foolish than this? For in the first place, as He also says further on, it is impossible that a devil should cast out a devil, for that being is wont to repair what belongs to himself, not to pull it down. But He did not cast out devils only, but also cleansed lepers, and raised the dead, and curbed the sea, and remitted sins, and preached the kingdom, and brought men unto the Father; things which a demon would never either choose, or at any time be able to effect. For the devils bring men to idols, and withdraw them from God, and persuade them to disbelieve the life to come. The devil does not bestow kindness when he is insulted; forasmuch as even when not insulted, he harms those that court and honor him.
But He does the contrary. For after these their insults and revilings,
3. "He went about," it is said, "all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease."
And so far from punishing them for their insensibility, He did not even simply rebuke them; at once both evincing His meekness, and so refuting the calumny; and at the same time minded also by the signs which followed to exhibit His proof more completely: and then to adduce also the refutation by words. He went about therefore both in cities, and in countries, and in their synagogues; instructing us to requite our calumniators, not with fresh calumnies, but with greater benefits. Since, if not for man's sake, but God's, you do good to your fellow-servants; whatsoever they may do, leave not thou off doing them good, that your reward may be greater; since he surely, who upon their calumny leaves off his doing good, signifies that for their praise' sake, not for God's sake, he applies himself to that kind of virtue.
For this cause Christ, to teach us that of mere goodness He had entered on this, so far from waiting for the sick to come to Him, of Himself hastened unto them, bearing them two of the greatest blessings; one, the gospel of the kingdom; another, the perfect cure of all their diseases. And not a city did He overlook, not a village did He hasten by, but visited every place.