Intention: Intention: For all who are standing up for justice, especially those who are persecuted for their courage, that God will continue to strengthen them and that their sacrifices may bear redeeming fruit.
Today’s Gospel | John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 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.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
A Lenten Reflection
In the narrative of Jesus’ healing of the blind man at the Pool of Siloam, Jesus again finds himself at odds with the Pharisees who refuse to accept either him or his works. We also get a glimpse of the reaction of bystanders to Jesus’ miracle. What is noteworthy about what is happening is the preoccupation with either explaining or dismissing what has happened to the blind man. The debate is completely detached from the wonder of what took place and the fact that a fellow human being who had been disabled since birth was now completely healthy. Today’s Gospel presents a picture of what happens to us and our society when we become desensitized to one another.
What seems to be at the root of our being desensitized to each other is the loss of a sense of responsibility for each other. Your problems are not my fault, therefore they are not my concern. However, there is more than one kind of responsibility. There is responsibility for what we do, but there also is responsibility for who we are. As part of God’s creation, we were made to participate in it fully and to be present to all of its needs. This means that our response to injury or suffering is about our ability to help and not about legal requirement. Taking responsibility for others how we live out our identity and vocation as members of the human family.
13th-century theologian Ibn al-Qayyim wrote, “If the heart becomes hardened, the eye becomes dry.” Once we lose the ability to be compassionate, we to lose the ability to be human. In this Lenten time of repentance and conversion, we should search for those places within us that have become numb to the lives and the needs of others, both those we know and those we do not. Until we reawaken ourselves to see and hear and stand with them all, our own humanity will remain incomplete.
Eternal Father, every day you call us to keep humble and generous hearts. At times, we fall prey to our own pride and stubbornness, and we begin to judge others. Teach us to look upon one another with open and unassuming eyes, and help us to always acknowledge our own brokenness and our constant need for your mercy and forgiveness. Fill us with compassion and love for all, that we might be your touch of mercy and welcome to one another. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.