Dear friends of Joseph House,
Here is a scripture reflection from Dr. Sonya Cronin on John 9. One reality that confronts us anew during the outbreak of the coronavirus is how vulnerable many among us are on a daily basis, pandemic or not.
As they are walking along, Jesus sees a man blind from birth, and his disciples use this opportunity to ask Jesus a theological question. “Who sinned,” they ask Jesus, “this man or his parents?” It appears that the man was known to them, or perhaps he was one of those locals whose story everyone knows, in either case, they knew the source of his blindness. “Neither,” Jesus says, and in that moment, he changes the man’s fate, playing the role of the shepherd of Israel, healing him of life long blindness, and in John’s language, bringing literal light to this man’s literal darkness.
As readers it is easy understand this passage as Jesus suggesting that this man was born blind, and spent a lifetime of blindness for the sole purpose of enhancing Jesus’ ministry, as if he was born blind “for such a time as this.” I would like to suggest that is NOT what is happening here. Instead, Jesus has turned a theological discussion into a moment of action, compassion, ministry. He has transformed mere speculation into an encounter with God’s love. “It was neither because of his parents or his own sin.” Jesus has made it about now – changing the man’s life. He was not born blind because of Jesus, so that Jesus could have a “ministry moment.” That is not how our loving God works. But Jesus just took his blindness and demonstrated to the disciples what the works of God look like. They look like compassion, not endless debate. In one moment of pure grace Jesus silences the conjectures of the religious so that this man might see. Whatever the reason was that the man was born blind before he met Jesus, now he has become an example of what the works of God look like, working through the one who sees him as a person sitting in darkness needing light, and not just a theological puzzle to be solved.