The readings on
which this sermon is
be found at: http://web.me.com/frsparky/iWeb/r015.htm
s015 Lent 4 3/4/2011
‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ John 9.40
In the name of God, Life-giver, Pain-bearer and Love-maker.
(Fr Jim Cotter http://www.cottercairns.co.uk/)
What did this formerly blind person come to see? He came to see
the world around him, in all its beauty and ugliness, the transcendence
of the stars as well as the mud which he put on his eyes.
He perceived healing and jealousy. He saw the unreality of
causality, of debates about sinfulness. It was a big day
for this man.
On the other hand those who were offended by Jesus’ curing were very
focussed, focussed on whether Jesus was from God or not.
This should alert us to the fact that it is a snare and a trap to
consider Jesus’ divinity. We are being sucked into the
logic of those who were offended by Jesus and his association with
others, those who had him killed. They had tunnel vision,
blind to the wonders all around them, blind to the miracle that had
happened before their very eyes. They were blind because
they WOULD NOT see. They would not see good beyond
themselves and their own narrow perspective. They would not
see dignity in this formerly blind person. They would
debate irrelevant theological niceties with those who were ignorant of
such things and who had better things to do, like giving thanks to God
for the miracle.
And so the same question could be asked of us: ‘What do we see around
us - or not?’ Do we see the beauty of the stars as well as
acknowledge our intimacy with the soil on which we walk? Do
we look for the healing of all or are we jealous of the spirituality of
others? Do we retreat into endless debates about causality
I have been reflecting more and more that the church talks much about
sin, I guess in an attempt to curb headstrong behaviour.
People’s mana, people’s self esteem has been stripped away and we have
replaced their proper dignity with church authority, and it is no
wonder to me that we have lots of gate-keepers, both lay and ordained,
in the church. And such people say things like ‘children are to
be seen and not heard’ and ‘he’s got too big for his
boots’. And this is perpetuated down the centuries just as
sexual abuse is committed by those who have themselves been
abused. Abuse of others has become what people normally
associate with religion, and it is for this that ordinary people spurn
the church, and rightly so.
And I reflect that it is a theology, not remarkably different from the
theology of the scribes and the Pharisees, which spawns gate-keepers
and it was precisely the ‘gate-keeper’ role of the scribes and the
Pharisees which enraged Jesus so much. Jesus didn’t cleanse
the Temple, he got rid of the gate-keepers at the entrance.
And it comes from blindness, blindness to the goodness in others.
And I want to say that it is not just that I have an optimistic
personality. How many depressed people find their
depression magnified by the church’s emphasis on sin and
unworthiness. I prefer an optimistic God, who, if there was
a God-ordained way of living life or worshipping the divine, God
wouldn’t insist on it. I prefer a God who doesn’t demand
that we believe in God to be acceptable, but a God who believes in us,
and in all people.
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