Why does God allow evil to exist? Some of us might have asked this question over the last several weeks. Why does God allow babies to be born blind? Or wicked men to prevail? Or deadly viruses to sweep the globe and envelop it in chaos? Is it because of our wickedness? Is it because we have sinned against God? Perhaps, or perhaps not. When it comes down to it, we do not know why evil is allowed to exist. But, one thing that we do know is this: all things work together for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Or as today’s gospel relates, “he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him” (Jn 9:4). In other words, while we do not know why God allows evil to exist, we do know that God turns all things – even evil – towards his purposes.
Today’s gospel recounts the healing of a man born blind. Jesus encounters a blind man, covers the blind man’s eyes with mud and saliva and instructs the blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam. The man follows Jesus’ instructions and his sight is restored.
“He was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him”. What then are the works of God? Is it the miraculous healing of the blind man? Or is it something deeper? Jesus’ divinity was partly revealed by his miraculous healing. However, the blind man did not actually recognize Jesus as the Son of Man immediately. When questioned by the Pharisees, the man stated that Jesus is a prophet (Jn 9:17). Only when he was asked directly by Jesus “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”, was he able to say “Lord, I believe” (Jn 9:35). Thus, the works of God are not primarily physical miracles, but is rather the gift of faith.
God, therefore, uses times of evil to increase our faith. Whenever we go through a trial, we are tested. Our commitment to our final goal is questioned. Is the prize worth the pain? The entire world is being tested right now by the Coronavirus. We do not know why God has allowed for this virus to spread. But we do know that the Coronavirus is a time of testing. Will we keep the faith, and thereby allow the works of God to be perfected in us? Or will we doubt the goodness of God?
Here is it important to remember that faith is not an empty concept. Rather, faith directs us towards hope. As Christians, our hope cannot ultimately be in the things of this world. “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass wither, and the flower thereof falls away” (1 Pt 1:24). If we put our hope in flesh, our hope will fade along with our flesh. Instead, we must put our hope, like the blind man, in the Son of Man. Only in Jesus is our hope secure. Only in his kingdom will our faith be rewarded.
So, during this time of testing, we must not waiver in our faith. We must not doubt the goodness of God. Instead, we must look forward to our one lasting hope – which is Christ himself.
Ian Mahood – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
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