March 26, 2017

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Ps 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6
Eph 5:8-14
Jn 9:1-41

“…it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”  Jn 9:3b

How could it be that a baby might come into the world afflicted with blindness?  How would any parent feel hearing such news?  Two thousand years ago those parents were told that somebody had sinned and that this was their punishment.  They deserved it. 

Jesus turns that kind of thinking on its head.  No, He says.  It’s just the opposite.  This affliction is an opportunity.  In fact, any affliction, illness, poverty, any hardship whatsoever is an opportunity; an opportunity to make the works of God visible.

Are these words of Jesus a hard saying?  Maybe for some.  But if Jesus said it, we owe it to ourselves to try to understand what he means.

Speaking for myself, I put down my bible the first time I read those words: “…it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him,” and for the first time in a long time, hope entered into my heart.  I was accustomed to offering up my disability to the Lord.  I knew that I could join my own suffering to His suffering on the Cross, but this was something else altogether.  This was an opportunity to glorify God.

I thought to myself, if only I were able to bear my illness with grace and courage and even joy, somehow, maybe someone would see God at work in me.  Maybe, they would see His work in me, and they too would be filled with hope, and turn to God as never before.

Jesus made the work of God visible in the man born blind by healing him.  This is what God can do!  He can give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, touch and heal leprosy!  But sometimes, that’s not what God does.  Sometimes, God works beyond miracles.

Over there, in the eyes of the suffering, a different light shines.  In their distress, the suffering, those who are willing, can learn to see the work of God made manifest within them.  And others, witnessing their transformation, and recognizing its source, will give glory to God because now, they too see.