“Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (Jn 9:3 NRSVCE) These are the words which Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel in answer to the question of whose sin caused this man’s blindness. It is Jesus’ defense of God’s use of human weakness. God’s works are made known in our weakness.
In the First Reading, the Prophet Samuel is going to Bethlehem to anoint a king for Israel. Jesse presents his first son and Samuel thinks, “Here is a man who can be king of Israel.” But God does not see as we see. The one whom God chooses to be king over his chosen people is Jesse’s youngest son, a shepherd who is still in his youth. God chooses the lowliest, those deemed weak by human judgement, because His works can be made known in them. The strong and proud have no “need” of God’s help; they have everything figured out and there is no longer any room in their life. But in the weak, it is abundantly clear that they need God in their life. They cannot do God’s work on their own, but require His grace. Jesus Himself, if he “were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” (Jn 9:33 NRSVCE) God’s grace strengthens the weak and lifts up the lowly.
In the Gospel today, Jesus heals the weakness of the man born blind. He restores his sight. This healing brought light to his life, but also shone light on the lives of the Pharisees. The Pharisees considered themselves strong, for they thought they could see. By the healing of the blind man, Jesus shines a light on the Pharisees’ own need for God’s grace in order to carry out the works of God.
We must remain humble before God, acknowledging our weaknesses and lowliness in relation to Him. But more than acknowledge, we must place our weaknesses, our lowliness, ourselves, into His loving hands, so that He might raise us up to a higher place. As Paul says in the Second Reading, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Eph 5:8 NRSVCE) God is our shepherd; no matter if He leads us beyond our own strength, He will be there to make up for what is lacking. This Lent, let us place our weaknesses and our whole selves into God’s loving hands and prepare to be transformed into His light.
Daniel Phillips – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta