May the words of my mouth and meditation of all of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
The first book that I ever read that I could not put down. The book was called Nobody’s Fault. Now It is a story about grief written for older children.
Something in the book touched me deeply, I never forgot it.
In the story a young boy dies in an accident and his older sister is overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, and anger, and sadness. She is trapped in the grief loop, where she replays the tragedy over in her mind and spends a whole lot time blaming. Blaming herself, blaming others, blaming… for the death…the accidental death of her brother. She moves through that grief by talking about her experience and her feelings with a child psychiatrist and eventually with the sharing, trust is built and she finds healing and she finds a grace that brings her to a place of understanding described in the books title. Nobody’s fault.
The man in the story from John’s Gospel was blind. He was born that way.
The disciples assume the cause to be sin. And they are curious… was the sin the blind man’s or his parent’s?
Now don’t judge them too harshly that, The explanation of any person having an illness or disability being God’s retribution for sin was a commonly held belief in those days. Think of the story of Job and how his friends see the way he is being afflicted and assume it must be a punishment some failing in God’s eyes.
Unfortunately this wrong and really evil way of of thinking persists into our own times… As we learned in the late 20th century with how we, and particularly the Christian church, dealt with the HIV AIDS pandemic or how many continue to deal with those of us who face addictive disorders, fear based thinking about disease or disability which relies upon prejudice, self-righteousness, or racism does not provide healing, it only makes things worse.
In its simplest terms, “you don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
To do the opposite, well, it’s that kind of shallow thinking, it’s that evil, the true blindness…that Jesus calls out in this Gospel lesson.
Even now as we face a new pandemic, our base instincts, our blindness, will compel us want to blame and to shame.
We will find ways to use the corona virus judge people as safe or unsafe based on nationality, race, or ethnicity.
But friends, we cannot hate our way out any problem. And fear based thinking will not bring us any solutions. In our personal lives or in how we deal with a global catastrophe.
As Jesus shows us again and again it is compassion and faithfulness in the face of suffering that bring about healing, character, and hope. This man who has blindness provides the occasion to manifest “the works of God.” Not to the occasion to blame God. Through Jesus, God gives us the vision of what
The blindness that is the disability of the pharisees in this story is self-righteousness. To think that we could possibly see as God sees? Jesus names these types of people the truly blind.
When this true blindness or way of thinking encounters the compassion and grace of God in Jesus Christ, it cannot grasp it… perhaps this is why it can only keep asking the man who receives sight “how is this possible?” And when confronted with the truth can only feel revulsion, anger, and resentment.
The blind man knows he can see… no amount of arguing or anger can get him to change his mind. He was blind, yes, but now he has sight. His sight was a gift given by Jesus Christ, no amount of arguing could change that.
In our baptism we get this type of sight too. Nothing can argue it away…
God’s promise to us in our baptism is to always, always see us with compassion, as God’s beloved child. This is a part of what we mean when we talk about God’s grace.