As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” full reading of the Gospel available at http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032617.cfm .
Be on guard for the times when we are too confident about who God is.
Right before this story in John’s Gospel, Jesus was rejected by the Pharisees in the temple. He is unwanted and excluded.
And so Jesus approaches the one who is unwanted, excluded, and marginalized – the man who was born blind.
The poor seek and find refuge with the other poor; the excluded with the excluded.
We see that the disciples are talking about the blind man, but they do not attempt to enter into a relationship with him. He is a nobody, without a voice. No one seems to care about his hopes and needs.
People with disabilities are still sometimes treated as nobodies, or as second class citizens.
The disciples ask the question that every culture asks: why is someone born with a disability?
Even today, the questions remain. Why us? What have we done? Why is God punishing us with illnesses and disabilities? What have I done to God that he would send me a catastrophe like this?
We often feel that if people have success, wealth, and good families, that this is a sign they are blessed by God. Failure, broken relationships and bad health are signs of something wrong, something bad in our lives.
But Jesus says: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him!”
Each of us is born so that God’s work may be accomplished in us. Each one of us has been created by God and for God. Each one of us has a vulnerable heart and yearns to love and be loved and valued.
Each one of us has a mission. Disabled or not.
Jesus reveals that this man born blind was made for love- as well as me and you!
St. Paul confirms that, reminding us that people with disabilities are chosen by God too!
In the first letter to the Corinthians he says: God has chosen the foolish of the world to shame the so-called wise. God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame strong. God has chosen what is low and despised, people who are nobodies, in order to reduce to nobodies those who are “somebodies,” so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
That is very similar to the Copernican Revolution, which moved the center of the universe from Earth to the Sun.
We used to say that we should do good for the poor, disabled, in need.
But it is they who are poor, disabled, or ill who are doing good for us.
The people we are healing all in fact healing us.
They call us to love, they are awakening in us what is most precious: compassion.
Jesus calls himself the Light of the World in the context of the man’s blindness. He spit and mixed his saliva with clay on purpose. This had great meaning, for when God made Adam, he made him of spit. Jesus is acting like God of the Old Testament: he gives the blind man new eyes and sight.
He is not just the Messiah, or just a prophet – He is God! He is doing it on the Sabbath.
The Pharisees fail to realize this because of their tunnel vision; they call Jesus a sinner, and call the blind man a sinner, too – that he was born in sin, which caused his blindness. But they are so wrong.
Jesus is teaching us the difference between true sight and true blindness. Jesus’ physical actions, miracles and manifestations are meant to point us toward the ones that are more invisible.
It is far better to be disabled, to be blind and ill and to live in the light of God’s mercy, love, and tenderness.
On the Sabbath day, which is Sunday for most of us, consider visiting the sick and shut-in. Stop by the nursing home or hospital. Perhaps make time for someone you know, maybe even a friend, relative or neighbor who is disabled. The sick and suffering need you, but as the Gospel story tells us, we will receive blessings and graces from the least likely of places.