Posted on Mar 24, 2020

22 March 2020

I have been very fortunate in my life.

Other than the usual childhood ailments I’ve come this far pretty well intact.

I still have my tonsils,

most of my teeth are still my own,

and I’ve kept at least some of my hair, very little but at least some.

I grew up in a basic middle class home, went to good schools,

have done a fair amount of travelling,

and am turning out pretty middle-class: neither rich nor poor.

I say all this because by and large I’ve known very little personally,

of what can be called “structural evil”–that is evil where no choices are made.”

Things or situations that from the very root are “wrong” misguided, no good, unfortunate.

I don’t know what it is like to be born blind.

I don’t know what it’s like, from the inside out,

to watch the death of my child,

to be caught in a vicious circle of poverty,

to be physically deformed,

to lose someone I love in an earthquake or other natural disaster.

I don’t know what it is like, from the inside out, to come up against

those things that make you cry out: “why Lord?”

“why me Lord?”

Up until this moment I have not known what it is like to live through a plague,

        a pandemic.

And although I’ve watched, stood by, as other people have encountered some of those things I still cannot easily get in touch with what it must have been like for the man born blind in today’s gospel to be released from that situation.

You will remember that that is the question from the outset in the Gospel:

Whose sin was it Lord that caused this man to be born blind?

There had to be a reason, a reason by choices for what happened here.

What is the reason?

On the surface the response that Jesus gives to the question seems evasive:

Nobody sinned here, but in this God’s glory can shine through.

First of all Jesus releases both the parents and the young man from any blame,

from any sin.

Second, he does not say that God willed this to happen, but he does say that even in this–even in what seems to be more than unfortunate but downright evil, good can come of it.

Interesting that the first thing Jesus does–and it is heard by the young man and his parents is to release them from blame. Then he follows up that internal release with a sign, a sacrament if you will, of that internal release–the physical healing. What’s upper most in importance here is the internal release.

Finding fault, blaming, can be a tortuous experience.

I’ve know folks who have spent a good deal of their lives trying to find blame, trying to find out the reasons for some tragic part of their experience. In the end it can be a crippling and embittering life. They need to be released from the inside out of what seems external.

I’ve also know people who have accepted terrible tragedy, not looking for blame or responsibility but simply picking up their lives and making the best they can of them. In the end these people sometimes put me to shame, developing much more sensitivity to the world and people around them than I have. In the end, it is these people who can in their lives let God be glorified and serve as an inspiration to us.

There is no doubt that all of us would like to see miracles happen every day.

We would like to see the current pandemic end, NOW!

We would all like to see people released from the terrible and tragic, the structural evil that is present in the world. But you know I’ve often wondered if it is ever possible to be released from the physical elements of structural evil without first coming to a personal interior release.

Stopping the search from blame and fault finding and getting on with living that seems to be what must happen first.

I don’t want to sound facile or cheap this weekend.

I don’t want this to be a “keep a stiff upper lip” homily.

I do want to believe, come to deeper faith in all of you

that it is possible to come to inner release.

And I do want to believe that we can come to this if we help each other do it. If we see ourselves as the living Body of the risen Lord, then we can, I believe–I want to believe– help each other stop fault finding and blaming and getting on with living, seeing the world as a place where God’s glory can shine through even the most tragic and unfortunate of circumstances we encounter.

Will we do that for each other?