February 26, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from John 9:1-5.
As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Jesus includes me and you in this story. He says that we have to do the works of God the Father while there is day, while there is time. Jesus, while he is in the world, is the light of day. I don’t think he was talking just about the time he literally walked the earth. I think he means as long as he is in our hearts, in our consciousness, he is in the world. That means that he is alive in me when I follow his teachings and treat others with compassion and justice. That’s how the works of God are made visible.
The matter of sin, which the disciples are focused on, is of no matter to Jesus. The disciples were men of their time, a time like ours still focused on sin instead of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Jesus told them that it was neither the sin of man nor his parents that caused his blindness. In this story Jesus cured the man’s blindness. Through the ages since we have looked to miracles from God to cure our ailments and our suffering. However, Jesus said that these can be used to show that the glory of God can overcome suffering. I have always had admiration for people who despite their limitations and suffering live in the joy of the love of God, accepting their reality without bitterness and self-pity. Often they accomplish feats that are remarkable even for able-bodied individuals. They are the light of the world for me, because they have embraced the love of God and let it shine.
Again and again Jesus tells us that we are overly fixated on sin. That’s not why he came into the world, to punish us or admonish us for our sins. We are all sinners; otherwise we would be God. The only ones he rebuked where those authorities who were focused on sin and the legalities of religious creed that caused them to reprimand and shun those who fell short in their observance of the laws. Jesus, on the contrary, consistently reached out in love. He sympathized with their plight; he took compassion on them in their suffering; he forgave their sins; he called them to be light in the world just as he was the light of the world. To him it wasn’t the sin that mattered whether it was one’s own doing or that of his parents. It was faith and remorse and a desire to be light in the world that mattered to him. That’s what reconciliation is all about, not sin. At least that’s what I take from this story.