Matthew 9:27—10:15 27As 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. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this.” 31But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district. 32After they had gone away, a demoniac who was mute was brought to him. 33And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.” 34But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.” 35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 10 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. 5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
Do you believe? The story of the blind men seeing Jesus and recognizing something extraordinary about him reminds me of a phenomenon that takes place in recovery circles. People affected by addictions (sometimes blinded, figuratively) see others who have overcome battles with addiction and are now happy, joyous, and free. Sometimes, having tried and still fallen back so many times, people don’t believe they can ever “get it,” and recovery from addiction seems to be something that happens to other people and not them. There is good reason for this: Addiction is a progressive disease and those who find themselves returning to it again and again often find themselves in a darker, lower, scarier place than the previous bottom. It is no surprise to hear them say they no longer believe they can do it. In today’s reading, Jesus asks the two blind men if they believe he is able to do this, to restore them to sight. In a similar vein, often those who are attempting to guide people out of their addictions, toward the light, tell them they don’t have to believe that they can get clean and sober. Rather they just have to believe that someone else believes they can do it. Sometimes, we have to believe for others.
Bo Cox Author and Counselor Norman, Oklahoma
One of the pieces to “recovery” that the reflection above neglects to point out is that it is God who heals the addict, not the addict healing himself or herself. If addicts could heal themselves on their own, they would. But they cannot. This has been proven over and over again by so many who have relapsed. In the 12 steps of recovery, Step 3 states that we, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” So, it is not a question of whether an addict believes he or she can do it. The real question is whether the addict is willing to believe that God can heal them by taking away the physical obsession to use. God will do for us all what we cannot do for ourselves. Addiction is a spiritual malady with a spiritual solution. If we take the spiritual step to give our will and life over to God, the promise that has been fulfilled over and over again is that God can and will take away any behavior, compulsion, or obsession. It is Jesus who opens the eyes of the blind men. God too can open all our eyes to a better way of seeing and being.
Some in recovery read this 3rd step prayer daily, so God will continue to take away the obsessions that haunt all of us, drawing us away from the healing grace of Jesus.
God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life.
Response by Rev. Mary
Crafton, Barbara Cawthorne. A Journey With Matthew: The 50 Day Bible Challenge . Forward Movement. Kindle Edition.