Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?
Human experience has become so intertwined with sin that none of us are untouched by it and the question seems valid. But it’s really an attempt to exonerate myself: if it’s this blind man’s sin or his parents’ sin, it’s not my sin. But what if there is something we failed to provide, as the neighbors of this blind man’s mother during her pregnancy, that caused the blindness? Don’t we sin collectively as well as individually?
Jesus is not repulsed by the fact that we sin—he came to defeat sin. But he reacts forcefully to my refusal to own my sin. And how can I accept forgiveness and absolution if I cannot admit my fault? Sin becomes the great divider from reality.
The poor man born blind is left either rejected by his own or denying what he knows to be true. He could be divided from himself and never recognize his long awaited hope.
Today we are physically separated from many who would wish to be here and celebrate with us. The privilege we are enjoying as an enclosed community reminds me how I can take for granted what is readily accessible to us. Around us lurks the temporary deprivation and mortal threat routinely endured by many Christians, in war zones, under intolerant governments, from terrorists or even in the detention camps at our southern border.
If we are separated, we need not be divided.
Just as sin divides, the Eucharist unites. Let us never forget our fellow Christians who have no access to the Eucharist today, but not just during this pandemic. Let us celebrate this Eucharist for them and with them in the Spirit—all members of the same body, the Body of Christ. Isn’t that who we are and why we can celebrate the Eucharist?
Let us never take this sacrament and our call to celebrate it for granted. Let us deepen our celebration now so, coming together again—as we heard last Sunday—we will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.