A gospel story has been sticking in my mind of late. It is the story of Jesus curing the man born blind. There are lots of unsettling parts of it that have been tweaking my subconscious for a while now.
Firstly the disciples ask Jesus whether it is the mans fault or his parents fault that he is born blind. How often does this happen? the person in suffering is blamed, you think this kind of reaction is relegated to the past? no it sadly isn’t. Are Christians immune from this? no, we really aren’t. I’ve heard stories of Rick Warren being blamed for the suicide of their own son on the internet. And I’ve been on the receiving end this phenomena recently too. I’d like to say I’ve never done it myself but I can’t say for 100% certainty. Pride is what makes us want to be the judge of other people and we are all susceptible to it.
Jesus says no, but the reason he gives for the man’s blindness is perhaps even more unsettling. The man was born blind so that Jesus could show the world he is God by creating his sight from dust. Hold on a second, Jesus didn’t mention original sin there. The man was born blind so that God could show his glory. Isn’t this a bit sick? Then I got to thinking, there is a blind guy who comes to my local pub and his friends help him get there and I always think when I see it that these people, atheists one and all, are showing God’s love and they don’t even know it. It is our weaknesses that allow God to show his strength.
Then it gets even more interesting. Jesus broke the rules! he healed on the Sabbath. Ha HAAAAA where to get started on this! JESUS BROKE THE RULES! and he is SINLESS! Oooooh boy what a can of worms. This is about putting Christian charity above the rules. This is why I’m sure the Pope can break the liturgical rules of the Mass of the last supper without losing a minute of sleep. He knows he is being watched like a hawk by the media and he above all wants to show the world the love of Christ so why not?
Then Jesus sends him to a fountain to get cleaned up. Why? Was it ritual washing? Was the pool of special significance? was it because he had mud on his face? or was it because a lot of people would be there getting water and Jesus wanted them to see that this man born blind could now see? or was it a test of the man’s faith to do something from a sense of simple obedience?
Then the people at the pool do not believe their eyes, this is blindness of a different kind. They take him to the Pharisees, who see the miracle but still refuse to believe. They not only refuse to believe the man, but don’t believe he was born blind. They haul in his parents. Who say, yes he was born blind, but when it comes to questions of Jesus they answer “Ask the man himself; he is of age; let him tell you his own story.” The blind man, who’d been ignored so many times in the streets as he begged was again being ignored, and what’s more his parents were scared to speak up for him because they were worried about being permanently kicked out of the synagogue! and that is duly what happened to the once blind man for the crime of saying that Jesus was the man who cured him.
So there we have it. The once blind man, who when his accusers told him he was a sinner from birth didn’t respond with venom, but simply re-stated the fact that he was blind and now he can see. This is a cause for celebration, yet the pharisees could not find the joy in their hearts to rejoice about a blind man being given sight. This is a rebuke to miserable curmudgeons everywhere. We must not be like the pharisees, a barrier to people’s faith, we must love people and rejoice with them, yes even if their healing breaks the rules! Now I’ve resisted for two whole days, but I think I’m going to have a G&T.