by Johnny Zokovitch
Sunday, April 3, 2011
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a | Ephesians 5:8-14 | John 9:1-41
The passages today are linked by a common reference to sightor seeing. The first reading has God explaining to Samuel, “God does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” In John’s gospel, Jesus approaches a man who is blind from birth. Neglecting to answer the question the disciples ask regarding the man’s sinfulness, Jesus instead seizes the opportunity to do the work of the one who has sent him. He covers the man’s eyes with clay and spittle and instructs him to wash in the pool of Siloam. The man returns able to see.
But the reaction of the man’s neighbors is telling. They reveal how deeply marginalized this blind beggar was by noting, though they regularly would see him, that they weren’t sure if this was the same man. Before, they had barely raised their eyes to even look at him! Instead of rejoicing over his newfound sight, they promptly march him off to the Pharisees. The Pharisees quickly interrogate him, insult him and accuse him of lying. Even his parents maintain their distance for fear of sharing in the trouble his sight has brought him!
However, on the second visit to the Pharisees, we see a transformation in the man born blind. No longer is he a passive object in these events, only present to be acted upon by others. Now he “sees” the situation for what it really is. Now he becomes the active agent in the drama, challenging the Pharisees and even purporting to teach the teachers! The change from marginalized spectator to empowered disciple is complete.
In the wake of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many people began to ask questions about why someone would do such a thing to the United States. Our government’s ready answer was that others are simply jealous of the freedom we enjoy. Americans were encouraged to go back to business-as-usual, to leave the hard questions to our leaders and to our do our duty, which they primarily define as consuming to support the economy. For decades we have been blind to how U.S. economic and military policies impoverish and threaten millions around our planet, but now more of us are starting to see. May our sight convert us into agents for gospel transformation in our world, so that no one will live in fear or amid violence, and all may live in dignity and peace. Amen.
This reflection is from Rise, and Do Not Be Afraid: Reflections for Lent 2002 by Johnny Zokovitch, Director of National Field Operations for Pax Christi USA.