Fourth Sunday of Lent A 2011

People want simple answers to complex questions.  Why does God allow pain and suffering in this world?  Why does God permit that earthquakes and tsunami’s to kill off entire villages and cities?  These questions lack a simple resolution.  Theologians distinguish between God’s will, which is absolute, and God’s consequential will in which God permits these evils but without willing them.  Theologians also distinguish between natural evil, in which lions eat zebras, from moral evil in which humans sin.  These are complex distinctions that one can spend a lifetime attempting to resolve.  The opponents of Jesus want a simple answer to a complex question.  Why was this man born blind?  He was born in sin.  He is a sinner.  His parents are sinners.  Now we can move on and eat lunch or so they thought.  Case closed!

Jesus will have none of that but instead says something ambiguous.  Jesus says this man was born blind so that “the works of God might be made visible through him.”  That may be true for this man, but what about the thousands of people who are blind today and are not healed?  Why are they blind O Lord?  There is no simple answer.

This man born blind is then healed by Jesus and yet many did not believe that such an event could happen.  How could Jesus heal when he broke the laws regarding the Sabbath?  Moreover, this Jesus took credit for this miracle instead of God.  Who did this Jesus think he was?  He was making himself into God!

Finally, the opponents of Jesus summoned this man’s parents.  The text says that his parents were afraid of the Jews.  More than likely they were Jewish.  Even if they were not, they would have been living in a predominately Jewish area.  That would be like someone living in Washington DC being afraid of the American’s.  They were afraid because to be kicked out of the synagogue meant that they would lose everything dear to them, their social standing, their religious faith, and even their livelihood. 

This man born blind had nothing to lose.  He lived his life begging but now Jesus healed him and gave him a chance to live.  The one who had no sight now was able to see that Jesus was God.  It was the ones who could see that were blind and the ones who were blind that could see.  At this Eucharist we ask God to open our eyes that we abandon our simple answers to encounter Jesus who transcends what we can say or think.

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