God’s Glory Manifested

Monday, May 25, 2009

blameJesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:3)

This Sunday’s Gospel reading was about the healing of the man blind from birth. The Pharisees were obsessed with this healing to the point where the man who had just regained his sight comically asks the Jews if they also want to become Jesus’ disciples, which by the way enrages them. But the verse that always struck me was Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ questions regarding the condition of the man’s health. The disciples wanted to know if it was the man’s sins or his parent’s that caused his blindness. It sounds bit harsh to speak of a child yet to be born responsible for his life long condition of lack of sight. Of course we can see it as a metaphor for “spiritual sight” but we must agree that all sickness derives from sin. But again it is the answer that Jesus gives to His disciples that is intriguing, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” (vs. 3) Is Jesus saying that this poor man was blind from birth just so God can show His power over it? Seems kind of harsh, doesn’t it? I don’t think that is what our Lord is saying. Neither is He negating the fact that human sin is the cause of all blindness, whether physical or spiritual (doesn’t need to be culpable sin).

Maybe a better way to look at it is to see Jesus redirecting his disciples (and the reader) from the consequences of sin to the Glory of God. Jesus is taking them (and us) from the level being fixated on the consequences of sin and raising them (and us) to a knowledge of God’s creative and restoring power. This verse is immediately followed with Jesus proclaiming,” We must work the works of Him who sent me, while it is day…as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus is saying there are two ways of looking at hardship. The first would be to place blame, stay on the level of sin, debate it perhaps. The other is to have God manifest His glory in overcoming sin by His grace. To have God perfected in our weaknesses; to have the Father’s work shine through us.

Too many times we want to stay on the first level. We are comfortable there. We really don’t believe things can or will change. Even Scripture cries out to us, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.” Yes, we are fools to think that we will live in a world without “thorns and thistles” in our garden, but this is not what Jesus unveils to us. He reveals to us the freedom from it while being in the midst of it.

Wouldn’t community life be much more fulfilling if we had this mindset. Instead of staying on the level of placing blame, and debating the issue, making charts, and replaying the crime over and over again in our mind when there is a trespass; imagine, rather,  saying, “It is not sin, but that God may be glorified!”

As we have been singing since Pascha, “let us embrace each other. Let us call brother’s even those that hate us! Let us be illumined by the Feast!” The world will not change, it is us who must change our hearts and minds in the light of Christ cross. Jesus spoke to His disciples before His passion,  “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

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