St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Lent 4/A: 3/30/14
The Rev. Dee Anne Dodd
St. Paul's, Wallingford CT
Three meditations on John 9:1-41
Meditation I (after John 9:1-12)
Oh, where to start with this gospel of the man born blind --
a story not only of great breadth but depth.
Why not just start at the beginning,
with the disciples questioning who's at fault
that this man was born blind?
We may have access to more sophisticated
answers to such questions,
but we can still succumb to the temptation to "blame the victim".
It's not so much that we mean harm,
but that we yearn for reassuring explanations for scary situations.
If we can identify how someone brought something bad
then maybe that means that we and our loved ones are safe.
Maybe that gives us one less thing to worry about.
But Jesus will have none of this "blaming the victim" business.
Jesus doesn't dwell on the man's limitations,
but his possibilities.
Jesus shows that no matter how or where we're born,
whatever our deficits or gifts,
we are all invited into a transformative relationship with God.
This man in the story is
no different from any other man, woman or child ever born,
no different from any of us:
He lives so that God's love might be revealed through him.
Meditation II (after John 9:13-25)
You know what I love about this story?
Not just that the man sees Jesus, but how he comes to see him.
Jesus reaches down into the mud, mixes it with his own spit
and rubs it on the man's eyes.
You can't get any more down and dirty than that.
Jesus isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, is he?
Sabbath or not, he didn't let anything get in the way
of doing what he needed to do
to show God's glory and compassion
for this world God so loves.
But there is something about this story that I don't much like.
It's how the references to "the Jews" have sometimes been misconstrued
as a theological license for bigotry and anti-semitism.
In truth, these references reflect tension among Jews
at the time of St. John's Gospel.
It was written during a period when Jews had finally achieved
a tenuous legal status with the Roman state.
Those professing Jesus were an added liability and thus
expelled from the synagogue
as part of a fierce family feud, if you will.
But remember, not only were the man and his parents Jewish,
so were the disciples,
and, yes, Jesus himself.
These references to "the Jews" here and elsewhere in John's Gospel
should only serve to OPEN OUR EYES
to our common history with and
indebtedness to our Jewish sisters and brothers.
Meditation III (after John 9:26-38)
Not only are the man's eyes opened -- liberated from darkness --
but so are his heart and soul, his mind and strength.
He travels not just from blindness to sight,
but from not even seeing where Jesus is
to recognizing him as a prophet
to proclaiming the insight that he is the Son of God.
The man's enlightenment is slow, incremental.
He stands with all of us seeking to follow Jesus,
He shows that the first step on this journey
is to confess our vulnerability,
admit that we don't have all the answers,
reject the noxious notion that
there could ever be such a thing as a "self-made" man or woman.
May each of us this Lent come to terms with our blindness
that we might be restored by the healing light of Christ
and made ready to behold his glorious resurrection
to wholeness and hope.
John 9:39-41 is read
Humming of "Amazing Grace" by choir during the final sentence,
then all sing in unison ...
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.
The Gospel of the Lord.