John 9:1-41 Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
Greetings People of Peace,
I trust that you’re all keeping well and safe during these unprecedented times. May this be a time of rest and reflection for you and your loved ones. A time to reimagine the church. A time to be creative and innovative. A time for family, and a time for yourself. A time to ponder all of the things that we have taken for granted. Our natural environment, our neighbour, our quality of life, our responsibilities and our freedom. We are freed by God’s grace to make choices that reflect the image of a loving and compassionate God ever present in our world. Freedom to live in a way that nourishes our souls and enriches those around us. To be our true authentic selves again, or perhaps for the very first time. Right now, the global pandemic we are experiencing challenges all of our assumptions about every aspect of life. My hope is that through this crisis the world will become a better place, and many deep wounds can be healed.
For too long, the world has been living out of an adversarial posture; where we’re all divided into good guys and bad guys. Us vs. Them. Where there are winners and losers, the winners take all and only winning matters. A world that encourages us to selfishly get ahead while others struggle just to get by or worse. A world where the successes of our neighbours equate with our own failures. A world where there is always someone to blame to make ourselves feel better, a world where we accept our own unhappiness, yet we don’t accept responsibility for it. The problem is always out there somewhere, never in here.
Today’s Gospel reading is an instructive one for this time of crisis. In it we find Jesus in the middle of an expansive narrative about who has sinned. Spoiler alert, it’s the Pharisees. It opens with a seemingly innocent question from the disciples, who are presumably seeking wisdom on such matters. They ask Jesus “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” it’s a fair question on a religious teaching.
Often times, Jesus answers his disciples’ questions with another question, or a parable, or some other mystical way that is difficult to decipher. Did we mention that he healed a blind man? But this time, Jesus is very direct and his words and actions have great power and conviction.
He says to them that “neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” I’m sure the disciples were not expecting this question. They probably thought that for sure that someone was to blame for the man’s blindness, and an argument could be made either way.
The disciples seem to be a lot like us. For they are interested to know who is to blame, as did the pharisees. And this issue, finding fault, is at the crux of the matter with the law, for the law seeks to determine who is right, who is wrong, who is a sinner, and who is righteous. And there are very specific rules in place to determine such things. The problem is that we are all right and wrong, sinner and righteous.
Jesus is not interested in who was to blame for this man’s great suffering. For Jesus has his mind set, not on earthly things, but on heavenly things. Jesus does not judge the man by the obvious trappings of appearance and social discrimination. Rather, Jesus sees the indwelling God in the least of these. For people like us, the disciples and the pharisees, we merely see a blind man, a poor man, a broken man, we wonder who’s fault is it that he was blind, him or his parents. We mistake our pity for empathy. But Jesus also reveals that God was with him and he with God. That there is no separation from God’s presence, even if we tried. That God is within me too, and you and all of creation. But does our life reflect this theology?
Now is a great time to think about such questions. To think back on our life and how it has gone so far and to think about how the rest of it might go. To think about all of the things we said we would do if we had more time. What would we like to change about ourselves? In light of COVID, how are you going to lead a more meaningful life moving forward? How are you going to seize this moment and change your life forever?
Our society is currently undergoing a massive behavioural transformation, especially here at the church. In spite of all the fear and panic that the pandemic is creating, I get a very strong sense that empathy is again growing in the world. I can see that all of us are forced into many acts of caring that we otherwise would not have experienced. Care for the elderly, care for children, care for the sick, care for our neighbour, care for ourselves. This global human crisis will certainly make us all appreciate just how precious life really is. To appreciate how close God truly is. My wish for you is that you make good use of this global sabbatical, to rest and recharge. Perhaps one might even dig in to the Bible for some scripture therapy. To switch the channel from breaking news to the in-breaking news? The tried and true old news, the Good News?
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