Lectio: 4th Sunday of Lent | The Works of God displayed in you
A s Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents for him to have been born blind?’ ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered, ‘he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’
Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (a name that means ‘sent’). So the blind man went off and washed himself, and came back with his sight restored.
John 9: 1-3, 6-7.
D id you ever wonder why you were born the way you were? Any one of us might ask, ‘Why was I not born better looking than I am, more intelligent, with a stronger constitution and a calmer temperament?’ If we had a say, we might have made a list of improvements to be carried on us before we were delivered.
The apostles asked Jesus why the man was born blind. Jesus said that he was born blind ‘so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’ Would it surprise you if he said the same thing about you? ‘You were born the way you were so that the works of God might be displayed in you.’
The story of the blind man in St. John’s Gospel is a long story. Jesus did three things for the blind man through which the works of God were displayed in him. He gave him his sight, he enabled him to become a free mature person, and he led him to believe and worship God. As you look at your own life, or at the lives of people you have known personally or through the media, you will see where the Lord has done one, two or all three of these. You may have had to deal with an ailment or disability that came to you from birth or later on; through the blessings of modern medicine the Lord may have made you well, or has enabled you to cope with a situation which itself remained unchanged. This may have taken courage and faith and endurance, and in these the works of God were displayed in you.
A free person
The blind man became a free mature person. At the beginning of the story he was sitting at the side of the road begging; at the end he was standing on his own two feet. He was able to think for himself even when the religious authorities tried to lecture him, and he stood his ground when they opposed him. He was not afraid of powerful people. Yet he did not forget where he had come from; he was happy to admit that he was the man who was born blind and who used to sit and beg. Later on, he was expelled from the synagogue and Jesus came to look for him; when Jesus told him that he was the Lord, he said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and worshipped him.
Down through the ages, when our Church has been at its best, its members have done those three things for humanity. They have cared for the sick and for those with disabilities, and have done everything they could to enable them to be well and to live their lives to the full. Across the world they have provided schools to educate young people to become free mature adults. In our own time Church groups along with government and voluntary agencies offer courses in personal development, helping people to grow in confidence and to use their talents. Small Christian communities in many parts of the world strive to create a more just society where all may have the necessities of life and support one another in an atmosphere of faith and love.
But as Jesus and his followers today are enabling people to be healthy and well, and to be mature and free, they offer them one more thing: faith in Jesus and an invitation to worship him as Lord. Jesus never separated these three things: it is by being at peace with ourselves, with others and with God that we achieve a good measure of well-being in this world, and complete well-being for ever in the next.
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it,
trusting that you will make all things right
if I surrender to your will,
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.