The Man Born Blind: John 9:1-41
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out and having found him he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of man?’
He answered, ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’
Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.’
He said, Lord I believe’, and he worshipped him.”
For those of us who have been gifted with good sight it can be difficult to imagine what it would be like to be blind – to live in a world of darkness and shadows. How would we, for example, explain the colours of the sunset, or the shape and colour of a fragrant rose, if we had never ever seen them?
The man in today’s gospel has never known the colour and texture of things before going blind – all he has ever known is darkness, and a life of isolation from the community, and, yet, this darkness and absence of the colours and relationships that we take for granted becomes the precise meeting point between him and Jesus.
This story can also enable us to understand how spiritual blindness can impair our lives of faith and hope by removing or blurring the many colours of grace within our hearts.
In this time of global uncertainty we also have to face the previously nameless. The coronavirus is invisible and unknown, and, while this can cause us to be afraid, it can also blind us to possibility and to the presence of God amongst us.
Once he has been healed of his blindness the man born blind becomes a catechumen, that is, a witness, who is able to reveal to others that he has met the Lord. Likewise ourselves in a time of darkness, we can meet Jesus in new ways. We can become a new people through the kindness of others; through forgiveness in our relationships; through the welcome and hospitality of friends, and through the thoughtfulness of strangers.
Notice in this gospel story and all the gospel stories how Jesus consistently reaches out to people on the edges of society – those isolated from the community by illness or prejudice. Notice how his healing touch, his healing words, and his compassionate heart, binds those previously isolated from the community back into its heart, and back into its centre of belonging. And, who of us here this morning does not need to be reminded that we belong no matter where we find ourselves on our journey of love and our journey of faith.
That is also our challenge as a family, as a faith community in Christ, as a parish, and as a nation. Jesus was never deterred from his ministry of healing and compassion by the social, cultural, systemic, or religious issues of the day. Rather, he used these realities as a backdrop and as the starting point for a sacred encounter with the transcendent and with the divine.
Let us take a moment to allow Jesus to reassure us all with his healing touch…
May his healing hands renew our inner sight and free us from fear…
God bless you
Michael McCabe. Our Lady of Kāpiti Parish, Paraparaumu, New Zealand, 22 March 2020
And finally we offer you this poem currently being shared widely on social media:
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.