Throughout the Lenten season, we will post reflections for holy days and Sundays from both this year’s Lenten reflection booklet, Witnesses on the way, which includes all-new reflections written by National Council Chair Charlene Howard and her husband Michael Howard (and daily reflections from newly-named Ambassadors of Peace) and from previously published Lenten booklets; the reflection below was written by Angie O’Gorman for the 2011 booklet. Click here to see all reflections as they are posted as well as links to other Lenten resources on our Lent 2023 webpage.
REFLECTION FOR Sunday, March 19, 2023
by Angie O’Gorman, originally published in “Coming to consciousness: Reflections for Lent 2011.”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made manifest through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me …”
In the long reading from John, we again hear the first century Jewish understanding of physical ailments as an outward sign of sin. Imagine the blind man’s hopelessness at not only being born blind, but, as a consequence, being thought a sinner and excluded from his community. Thus, Jesus’s response to the question of whose sin caused the man’s blindness is one of great hope. It wasn’t sin, Jesus says, “but that the works of God might be made manifest in him” (John 9: 3).
What a different psychological and physical stance we could take towards sin in ourselves and others if we understood such weakness as a potential for making God manifest. For one thing, despair over our own powerlessness might diminish. But our tendencies to condemn others — either individual or national “others” — for what we perceive as their sin might be tempered by the realization that God is at work here too and will be made manifest.
We have seen this. Even in the most heart-rending suffering, something seemingly internal to the human spirit arises and will not be denied. The manifestation does not negate the suffering but emerges from it, transforming a meaningless hell into restored life.
- How can you use the weaknesses you perceive in yourself to bring God’s love to others?
>> Join the Pax Christi USA community on Monday, March 20, for the fourth in our weekly series of Lenten prayer services over Zoom. Click here for more information and to register