Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1b, 4,6-7, 10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
John’s Gospel usually offers us long discourses. Today’s Gospel, a preview of John’s passion narrative, is a fast-moving account of grace undeterred by controversy and opposition. I recommend you revisit it, picturing the events and putting yourself in the place of the various characters. That will yield more insight than anything I can say.
What I would say considers these people who would intimidate the man born blind, his parents or Jesus himself. They are the crux of the story, not just as antagonists or as an historical reminiscence but as the perennial problem of believers. They are not outsiders. The Evangelist is addressing his own community.
Being a sincere believer isn’t good enough if I’m sincerely convinced of the wrong things. On the other hand, it isn’t a question of having the correct list of propositions to believe. Faith isn’t about information “out there” but about the right relationship–a real relationship–with God. This could even be a shaky relationship, rocked by my doubts, my fears or limitations–but that’s still a real relationship.
I could indeed list what I believe in such a relationship but if what I believe is only an item on a list, that’s not the reality. If what I put on paper indicates a vital, striving experience, if it verbalizes how I connect with that living Mystery we call God, if that confession is like the poem written by the love-sick poet, then it is part and parcel of faith.
What I see in today’s Gospel are people who sincerely strain their minds and belief systems to conform to their concept of God, not wrong, as far as it goes, but wrong because it goes no further than a concept. Perhaps they find some security but they find no satisfaction in their presupposition that God exists or in doing God’s will. They’ve settled for a concept rather than conception: conceiving the living God, enfleshed in human lives.
They are no better than a family seated in a restaurant, each absorbed in his her own cell phone, texting friends about the sunny day outside. They mock the communion of the family meal, by keeping its outward form, they mock friendship by the electronic distance of the text, they mock their humanity by their mute self-absorption and they mock the sunlight by remaining indoors, fleeing its rays.
When do I fail to detect God’s miraculous work, right here in the paradoxes of my life? How often have I reduced the infinite, loving God to the size of a tweet or text? What happened to the joy in my life?