In today’s Gospel Story Jesus heals the man born blind. In the much longer version of the Story, Jesus says “I am the light of the world”. And then, “Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.” This Story is both a welcoming, and a gentle encouraging warning.
As the light of the world Jesus offers to help us perhaps see things differently, if we are willing to let him. Free will and free choice are very important in the way that God is and creates us to be. God does not force us to know him, he invites us, which means we have a choice. The blind man that Jesus healed said “yes”, and the Pharisees said “no”. They felt they had all the truth, while the healed man knew he didn’t, and so was willing, even eager, to see and to grow.
The Pharisees in the Story, certainly not all Pharisees, play a key part, showing us how not to be judging and categorizing God. They had determined that the man was blind because of his or his parents’ sin. They also determined Jesus was not of God because he did not follow their Sabbath rules — he healed someone on the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees had decided that no work could be done on the Sabbath, and the healing that Jesus did was some kin d of “work”, so he had broken their Sabbath law. Therefore he was not of God. Jesus tried to help them understand, but they wouldn’t let him. They felt they had God all figured out, and so were unable to see God being God. They had put God in a box, and would allow nothing to interfere with that. They were keeping him in that box. In the longer version of the Story, “Jesus says to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
Those words offer us some food for thought, if we are so inclined as to let them. Jesus showed the people of his day, and us too, that God does not see things our way. As Pope Francis reminds us, God welcomes and loves every one of us, even the people we don’t like because they don’t follow our versions of how God has to be and how they have to live. In a religion as structured and ordered as ours it is easier to stay so focused on the letter of the laws and dogmas that we do not let ourselves go to where they point us — God in our life happening in ways and places we do not expect.
Throughout the Scriptures Jesus is referred to as “light”. He enables us to see things more clearly and perhaps in new ways. We might think of asking him to help us look at our own life, our priorities, our prejudices, our willingness to learn and perhaps change how we look at things. Jesus sends the Spirit to help us gain some insight to what it means for us to live as his disciples in our own circumstances. The Spirit might give us a sense that maybe some of our views are amiss if not outright wrong, maybe see that people we judge as wrong and misguided are actually God happening in ways we do not expect or recognize. Jesus shows us our Father’s love and care for all people and all creation. We might ask the Spirit to help us get a sense of how we fit into all this, how we are to react to people we just can’t stand or whose way of living we cannot tolerate. In Jesus’ light we might also come to an awareness of our responsibility to and for all creation. The possibilities are endless.
It is easy and yet dangerous to think we have the total truth of God locked up in our terms, labels, definitions, and that we can come up with reasons and explanations for everything. Of themselves all or descriptions are finite, while God is infinite and beyond any explanations we can come up with. We come to see that we are surrounded by God being God all around us and in us. God is real, and perhaps we are coming to sense this in new and unexpected ways.
When we trust and open ourselves to the Spirit anything can happen. We might come to realize that our rules, as good or bad as they might be, are not necessarily God’s rules. Our big prayerful question might become along the lines of “help me to see how I can help you live our Father’s love in my situations”. Just sayin . . .