John 9: 1- 41
There are times in life that when things go wrong we wonder what we did that God is punishing us, or we recall some sin, and even though we confessed it, think that the bad that is happening is a punishment for our sins. This faulted reasoning was also present at the time of Jesus and the Gospel gives us an example of it. The disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They had no doubt that the man’s blindness was a result of sin, and they just wanted to know whose sin it was. They did not expect the response they received from Jesus, “neither he nor his parents sinned.” This should be reassuring to us that when we look at the bad things that happen to us it is not God punishing us. Bad things that happen are often the result of bad choices being made and the consequence of sin in the world. Recall that when God created the world all was in harmony; it was a Garden of Paradise. When sin entered the world it disrupted the harmony of creation, and its’ effects are still with us. The effects of sin are not the same as punishment for sin. In the beginning of John’s Gospel we are told that; “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17
Rather then getting caught up with asking why God is punishing us, let us take time to count the ways that God is Blessing us. When the formerly blind man was dragged into questioning about how he was healed on the Sabbath he answered very simply, “One thing that I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” It was difficult for some to accept that God would intervene in this man’s situation and to believe the miraculous nature of this healing. One wonders, who was truly blind, the man who couldn’t see or the Pharisees? The man born blind could not see the world around him, but he was able to “see” who Jesus is. He had an interior vision of God’s presence and power. The Pharisees were blind to healing power of Jesus. Unlike the man born blind who desired sight, they did not realize their blindness and so did not seek healing. Throughout the remainder of the Gospel they stumble in their blindness as they continually fail to see that Jesus is indeed Messiah and Lord.
This Gospel is a call to us to open our eyes to see the miracles that take place in our lives everyday. This could be in the answer to a simple prayer; it could be the resolution of some family or relational issue that weighs heavy upon us; it could be an unexpected gift that solves an impending financial problem; it could be a healing of body, mind or spirit that brings health and peace to us; or it could be something so simple as getting a good parking space at a time when we really needed one. In all this God is truly present and with his presence is his love and his power. During Christmas we were reminded that Christ is the Immanuel—a name that means, “God is with us.” God is truly with us and does great things for us. During Lent let us be mindful of the call we received on Ash Wednesday to fast, pray and repent. In doing this may our eyes be truly open to the beauty of God’s work in our lives and the lives of those around us.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Healing the Man Born Blind by El Greco, ca. 1570