Pastor's reflection for weekend of March 3-4 (Jn. 9:1-41) Today’s gospel is a rather long reading – 41 verses. Although there is a short form of the man born blind and then healed by Jesus it always makes more sense to read the long form. We like things done quickly in our lives; instant answers through googling on the computer, don’t like to wait in lines, texting, emailing, etc. Often we don’t even take time to truly be in the presence of others and listen. Jesus takes time with the blind man to listen to his story and then for the first time the man sees anew through the power of God in his life.
I remember a few years ago visiting someone at the hospice center here in Strongsville. It was a very cold, snowy wintery, blustering day. Because of the weather that day parking was difficult and when I was leaving a person had parked – because of the weather – in a way that made it almost difficult for me to get out even though I did eventually.
At first I was upset with the person wondering how he could be so foolish – although that is not what I really said to myself. However, the thought then struck me that he might have received a call that his mother, father or whomever was near death and that he just wanted to see them as quickly as possible. That might have been his story and every person has a story to tell.
In the gospel the blind man had a story to tell but no one would listen to him. His parents tell others to ask him if he was blind. The apostles want to argue about whether it was his sin or his parents sin that caused his blindness. They don’t care to listen to his story; rather they just want to put the blame on someone. The neighbors also argue about whether he was born blind or not and the Pharisees deny that Jesus could help him.
We all have stories to tell about our lives, don’t we! Parents, grandparents have stories to tell about their children and grandchildren. People we call addicts have stories to tell and people we label as ‘losers’ have stories to tell. Those who aren’t like us or who disagree with us have stories to share and those who are grieving the loss of a loved one want to shout out ‘why’ and have someone listen. The person sitting in front of you at mass or behind you or next to you all have stories of life, love, forgiveness, sometimes hatred, healing, desires for peace to share, tell and be listened to.
Unfortunately we often short circuit the light of Christ and the presence of God through our desire for quick answers in our world of technology today. We want to pull up a screen on the computer and have the answer right there because if it is on the internet it must be true.
But like the blind man in the gospel we all need someone to take time to listen to our stories as well as listen to others so that we can grow in the presence of God in our lives. Anything short of our taking dime with God daily in prayer is doing ourselves a great disservice.
There is a great interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees at the end of the gospel where the Pharisees ask Jesus if they are the blind ones. And Jesus responds by saying: “If you were blind you would have no sin; but now you are saying ‘we see’ so your sin remains.
We might thus ask who really is the blind person. Is it the blind person in the gospel or we who fail to listen to the stories of others so that we can open ourselves more to the presence of God in our lives.
Fr. Bob Kraig