2 CHR 36: 14-16, 19-23
PS 137: 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
EPH 2: 4-10
JN 3: 14-21
In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals the man who was born blind (John 9: 1-41). The symbolism in this well-known story is easily recognized: sight and blindness, light and darkness, Baptism, enlightenment, and discipleship.
Jesus gave the man sight, but things were not immediately easier, nor presumably better, for him. The man was kicked out of his community, and even his parents distanced themselves from him. His parents were able to talk about their son when he was without sight, but out of fear, they were not able to talk about him after he was healed. “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself” (John 9:20-21). Fear keeps us from speaking up, and instead, we remain silent.
It is worth noting that the actual story of the healing is described in just two verses in John’s Gospel. Then for the next thirty-nine verses, the controversy surrounding how the man was healed, why was he healed, who healed him, and what were the healer’s origins are described. Let us not get so wrapped up in the little things that we lose sight of the big things! We are called to open our eyes. We should have our eyes wide open to witness the injustices in the world. Today’s Gospel reading also calls us to listen. When we are out in the world, we should listen to those who are hurting, acknowledging that we all have differing needs. We have faith in things that we cannot see. We have faith in God who is understanding of our particular life circumstances. God may or may not change our circumstances, but will help us to get through them and make sense of the situation.
The man who was born blind gained both light and sight. The Pharisees had light, but they continued to rule in darkness. But we are all a community-- the man born blind, his parents, the Pharisees, and the rest of us. We open our eyes and ears, we observe, we reflect, we learn, and we have faith.
Leah Sweetman is the Assistant Director for Service Learning at SLU's Center for Service and Community Engagement.