READINGOld Testament: Jeremiah 24:1-10
Psalms: Psalms 31
New Testament: Romans 9:19-33
Gospel: John 9:1-17
Evening Psalms: Psalms 35
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or
his parents, that he was born blind?’”
Today’s reading from the Gospel of John speaks to me. In the reading, Jesus' disciples assume that there is a connection between present circumstances and previous sin. The only question then is, whose sin was it? When faced with a man blind from birth, they deduce that someone must have done something wrong for which this is a punishment.
I feel thinking like this is a way of trying to hold on to a belief in God's justice when something doesn’t seem fair. One way of getting around that problem when you believe in a God who is all-powerful, all-loving, and all-fair, is to say that it only ‘seems unfair', but actually isn't. There was, after all, some secret sin being punished. I think this is a comfortable sort of thing to believe if you happen to be well-off, well-fed, and healthy in body and mind --in other words, if nobody can accuse you of some secret sin.
I believe Jesus firmly resists any such notion of how the world is ordered, that being born blind doesn't mean you must have sinned. Nor does it mean that your parents must have sinned. No, I see something more mysterious and more hopeful going on: The chaos and misery of this present world is the raw material out of which a loving, wise, and just God is making his new creation.
When Jesus heals the man, I believe John clearly intends us to see the action as one of the moments when God's truth and our world come rushing together into one. I see what it means that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness didn't overcome it.” For me, John's Gospel tries to push us forward in heart and mind toward God's new creation, the time when God will make all things new.
Lent and Holy Week allow me to reflect on the present world (with its violence and horrible diseases) and the world to come (with harmony and a peace beyond our understanding). Today’s reading gives me comfort and assurance, even though I know this life can seem unfair and cruel. I hope it does the same for you.