Monday’s blog uses the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Blair was told Iraq had no WMD
9As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We*must work the works of him who sent me* while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes,7saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ 9Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ 10But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ 11He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ 12They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ 16Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. 17So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’
This passage shows Jesus being impatient with people who want to know why a man has been born blind. He answers in effect that the man was born blind in order that he could be cured. Stop asking daft questions that are beyond the wit of humanity, he means; just exercise your humanity by using the gifts God has given you to cure him! According to John,Jesus defended his Sabbath cures by telling them that God’s goodness doesn’t stop working on the Sabbath and neither should ours. Here he says that as long as the light of his ministry lasts, he has to get on with God’s creative work.
When the trappings of religion get in the way of divine or human goodness, Jesus is ruthless. The spectacle of religious leaders whose first concern when a blind man has been cured is that it has been done on the Sabbath, is one that some of us have seen repeated in the actions of contemporary religious leaders who love religion more than God or their neighbour. Blind people may be able to see but they can’t.