Fourth Sunday of Lent
Reflection by Greg O'Donnell - Associate Director, The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program
We are all familiar with the many stories of healing throughout the Gospels. At first glance, the healing of the blind man at the pool of Siloam appears to be yet another of these miraculous moments, in which Jesus rewards the great faith of an individual who is afflicted by an illness through a miracle of healing. However, unlike most other accounts of healing in the Gospels, this passage, strikingly, focuses only likeon the miracle that has been performed. In fact, it appears as though Jesus performs this miracle not merely to give a blind man sight, but as a lesson to teach the disciples themselves how to see.
This lesson – to see God’s hand at work in the daily events of our lives – is all too relevant today, as we constantly grapple with daily challenges to our spiritual sight. Much like the disciples are told that the blind man at the pool has been afflicted “so that the works of God might be made visible,” we too have been provided with this passage so that we might come to have greater understanding of God’s great plan.
Unlike many of the other gospels of healing, where we are drawn to relate with the individual healed by Jesus’ miracle, this Gospel invites me to relate more to the actions and reactions of the Pharisees. just as these leaders are shocked at how Jesus is proposing that God is present among them (“You were born totally in sin,” they say to the blind man, “and you are trying to teach us?”), I too am often unable to see the truth that lies veiled behind my own sense of comfort and understanding with the world around me.
As an educator, I know this was all to often the case in my classroom. How many times did I fail to listen to a student, simply because as the teacher I already knew the right answer? Or correct a student for talking out of turn, when they were merely helping another student? How often did I miss out on genuine moments of learning, instead refusing to let the class get off track from my meticulously planned lesson? While these are only just a few examples, the theme is one that we can relate with everyday. As the Pharisees were too busy debating the lawfulness of Jesus’ miracle to hear the blind man’s testimony, we too often miss out on the many opportunities to experience God’s presence in our lives because we are too complacent or self-assured about our own ways of seeing.
Despite our best efforts to understand God’s presence in our lives, it is this very yearning to have our way of seeing confirmed which in fact makes us blind to God’s greater glory. Thus, during this Lenten season, let us pray for humility – so that we might understand the world as it is, and not as we would have it – and so that the works of God might be made visible to us.