As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who was blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him. While it’s daytime, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After he said this, he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smeared the mud on the man’s eyes. Jesus said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (this word means sent). So the man went away and washed. When he returned, he could see.
The man’s neighbors and those who used to see him when he was a beggar said, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is,” and others said, “No, it’s someone who looks like him.”
But the man said, “Yes, it’s me!”
So they asked him, “How are you now able to see?”
He answered, “The man they call Jesus made mud, smeared it on my eyes, and said, ‘Go to the Pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
They asked, “Where is this man?”
He replied, “I don’t know.”
Then they led the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now Jesus made the mud and smeared it on the man’s eyes on a Sabbath day. So Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
The man told them, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and now I see.”
Some Pharisees said, “This man isn’t from God, because he breaks the Sabbath law.” Others said, “How can a sinner do miraculous signs like these?” So they were divided. Some of the Pharisees questioned the man who had been born blind again: “What do you have to say about him, since he healed your eyes?”
He replied, “He’s a prophet.”
Last night, I had hoped that the mini-series The Bible would get it right. But, they didn’t. Along with so many others, the Magi from the East showed up at the birth of Jesus.
But, my wife and I had a good conversation about them, nonetheless. It was interesting to us that G_d spoke to the Magi in a way that they would understand. That is, they were informed that a special star would appear in the East and, if they followed it, the star would lead them to the world’s new king. What my wife and I talked about was how G_d spoke to the Magi in ways that G_d didn’t speak to the Jews.
It’s with that in mind that I read this passage. I see in the Pharisees response that G_d doing something outside of their understanding is completely out of bounds. “This man isn’t from G_d, because he breaks the Sabbath law.” In other words, G_d must work within their framework, their view of things, or it can’t actually be “from G_d.”
Do we do the same things? Do we limit how G_d speaks to us - and others - based on our worldview? If so, what happens when G_d does speak to others - and, be rest assured, that G_d does?
It will come as a shock to some of you (and others it won’t) that I have learned quite a lot about what G_d does and what G_d doesn’t do when I’m talking with people of other faiths (or no faith). I have fond memories of talking with a “pagan” friend of mine while we sat on the front porch (seriously, he has “pagan” tattooed across his back). We talked about life in general, if there was life after this one (and if so, what kind of life), struggles, etc. What started out as apprehension on my part, became a mutual respect and love for the other. It was a time of growth for us both. He remains a good friend.
But, and I don’t doubt this in the least, I know for certain that G_d speaks to him. And, no, it’s not “You must trust in Jesus or burn in hell.” G_d speaks to him in ways that are beyond my comprehension - beyond ways in which G_d speaks to me. Furthermore, I know that G_d has spoken through him, and not just to me, but to others as well.
The reason that statement from the Pharisees jumps out at me is because I used to be that way. If G_d didn’t act like I thought G_d should, then, obviously, it wasn’t G_d. I was so caught up in my religion, that when G_d was working right in front of me, I missed it. For years this went on. So I can see their blindness.
The real question comes when things like this happen. Are they going to stick to their religion or are they going to embrace what G_d is doing? And, to sharpen the point further, what are we going to do? When people from outside our religious tradition show forth the love and mercy and grace and forgiveness of G_d, are we going to bury our heads in the sand? Or worse, are we going to go out of our way to prove they’re false? Perhaps we are so entangled in our religion that G_d has to use others to even get our attention? Maybe G_d has to break a few of our laws, our religious sacred cows, to make the point?
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC