In our reading, John 9:1-41, we have the story of Jesus healing a man born blind. The story reminds me of the convictions each of us holds dear. We can hold them tightly to assure we live by them or, we can hold them gently in our open hands so others can see them and discuss them with us and adapt them for themselves. If the convictions are true, they will always be there but if we are holding onto something that is false, we might be able to see that at some point.
Seeing is believing, except when the photograph is doctored or if we see or read it on the Internet or it’s a TV commercial. Would we believe it if we knew a blind person and suddenly they could see again?
In the story, Jesus’ followers see a blind man and ask a question: “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The conviction the people in Jesus’ world hung onto was that sinners and/or their children were afflicted with horrible disabilities or illnesses, calamities befell their animals and their land. It meant you could drop a small coin in a beggar’s hand and walk on without any need to do more. This belief caused them to feel self-righteous. Everyone in my family is fine — it isn’t my fault this man is blind. I bear no responsibility for his care, his education or his spiritual well being. Those who sinned can bear this burden.
Jesus tells his followers that neither this man nor his parents sinned and God’s works will be revealed in this blind man because Jesus is the light of the world and he came to shed that light on the world. Jesus uses his own saliva and some dirt and puts it on the man’s eyes and sends him to a pool known for healing. The man does as he is told and finds that he can now see.
Word gets out about his healing and leaders of the temple question the man. These leaders are holding tightly to their convictions about what a good person should do or not do on the holy day. One doesn’t make clay on the Sabbath and healing isn’t allowed unless an illness is life threatening. They are not happy with this man, Jesus.
The leaders question his parents hoping somehow to prove the man was never blind in the first place. They talk to the man again and ask him to proclaim Jesus is a sinner. The blind man only knows what he sees and THAT he sees. The man tells them he has no idea about Jesus’ soul except that only God would allow someone to heal a person born blind. When the man finally sees Jesus, he recognizes that Jesus is truly from God.
Hold your convictions with open hands.
Lenten lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Friday, March 28, at St. Mark Episcopal Church at Spruce and Sylvia streets, Montesano.
The Reverend Bonnie Campbell ministers at St. Mark Episcopal Church in Montesano.