The Gospel tells us that as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. His disciples asked Him: Rabbi, who sinned "this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
And Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him".
If we search deeper into this particular scene from St John's gospel reading, one can see that many levels and themes are weaved together into one central culminating theme.
The disciples asked Jesus a pertinent question. A striking question. A disturbing question. It's disturbing in two ways: (a) if we don't know how to approach this properly and rightly, and (b) it reveals the human condition, that when it comes to some form of sickness, we want to put the blame on someone, somewhere or sometime.
That eternal cry of people in their wounds and suffering confess to me, "Father, what have I done wrong for this to happen, what sin have I done...it feels like God is punishing me. Is there some generational curse?"
"Who sinned?", they asked concerning the blind man, "him or his parents?"
A question: who is to blame? (this is a human condition- to put blame. This was the sickness in paradise - Adam blamed Eve). And there is no easy answer - on a human level. But Christ answers in a different way- he brings it to another level, he takes it out of the earthly human condition. He doesn't blame and doesn't judge. He says neither the man nor his parents are to blame or have sinned "but the works of God should be revealed in him": We are on a spiritual level.
It is the understanding in our spirituality that sickness, suffering, hurt, brokenness, wounds and death - are not the natural created condition of this world. But health, healing, being whole, being sane is the condition we are created for - we were created for God and whatever God is, we are to become. But somewhere, at sometime, at some place, things have gone wrong, misdirected or have missed the target. When you have the fallen condition (sickness and suffering), someone is to blame. It doesnt just happen.
If I can fill in the backdrop: it is a teaching of the church, it is also a teaching of the Bible, and is expanded in today's Gospel reading- that we are all born in a world that is sick. Sickness and suffering is around us and attached to us. None of us asked to be born in a time of wars, nuclear threats and terrorist fears. We live in a fallen world and everything participates in this brokenness, fallen state, disease and sickness. This is the meaning of Original sin - we inherit, just by being born in this world- a broken, fragmented, corrupted, demon-riddled, death bound humanity. We don't even have a choice of who our parents are.
But because we are born in a world that is sick and sinful (note: sin means to be off target, to miss the mark and be off track. We are born off the track - no one is born in paradise), we are to some extent preconditioned in who and how we are by our parents. Each person biologically, physically, emotionally and spiritually, inherit these things from their parents This sickness one inherits, is specifically their own and not anybody else's...but the blessings they receive, is their own also. If they are sick - we are sick. If you have a hysterical Greek mother, someone in the family is going to be hysterical. If you are born in HIV parents - someone will have HIV.
Now its not my fault in a sense, but the fault of a lot of people within the context of their particular choices, with a whole lot of behaviour and a whole lot of activity that comes together when a child is born. Now by nature we are born in a a sick world, by nurture this sickness is compounded...in our church we call this: inheritance and imitation.
On the issue of inheritance: there is no choice, I didn't ask for the parents I have - what ethnicity, language and religion. In a sense we are victimized emotionally, physically, mentally by whatever particular situation we are born into. This is what the gospel reading is about. Not so much about the story of the blind man, but its about the seeing people that are blind through their actions and behaviour - their own inheritance and imitation. The sickness is not about the one who is blind. The sickness is about the ones who are healthy and that includes the religious personalities from the gospel reading. Just because we can see and hear, it doesn't necessarily equate to that we are not blind or deaf. Just read the sick behaviour and dialogue and actions in the gospel reading.
The culminating central theme is this: what do we do with the actual humanity that we have received, the nurture and nature, the inheritance and imitation, that has been ours? How do we not add ourselves to the sickness, not to become ourselves an agent of greater sin, so that we don't pass on to those around us more sickness? Howcan we become a healing presence rather than a person culmination the sickness?
For the sickness to stop. For the healing to occur. For the suffering to be alleviated...we need to be re-created. At least that is the understanding of our church. That is why Jesus heals this particular blind man, not with a command like that we read in other accounts, "you're healed", "your faith has made you well", "get up and walk", but he recalls and reacts the whole accounts of the creation story. Listen to how he heals the blind man: "He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva and He annointed the yes of the blind man with the clay, and said to him, 'Go and wash in the pool of Siloam'. So he went and washed and came back seeing."
The whole healing act of the whole person, is to the measure that we are re-created. And to the measure we are healed ourselves, we become a healing presence to others. We then break the chain and the power of disease and sickness and evil that is ours and are able then to overcome it. We are called to do this - to work on becoming holy, to work on becoming healthy, to undo the madness into which we are born. To have the mind of Christ and the power of the Holy spirit and the heart of The Trinity. To allow God to come into the deepest recess of our being and abide is us and clean out the rubbish and the garbage. To bring God into contact with the wound.
Therefore, like the blind man - SEE:
See the sickness - see your sickness.
See the reality - see your reality.
See what is happening (physically, emotionally, bodily and invisibly).
See the Truth of things.
To be in the reality of things...that is what heals.
The church always appeals to this. What does it always say?
Healing is to put things in the right direction and on target.
When it's Truth, in reality and in wanting to be healed, with no generalizations, no beating around the bush, no cover ups, no secrets (we are as sick as our secrets) - but we face it, we concrete it, say it with your mouth and say it exactly how it is to another human being...this is healing. If not- you will get more sick and more sick. Don't pass it to your children. You will see your own traits, hang ups, complexities in your children (if a child can scream- there is hope).
Therefore at some point, we have to talk about mum and dad. We have to talk about family. We have to talk about me and what happened to us. We have to talk about alcoholism, drugs, sexual, migration experiences...and we have to break that chain of disfunction, addiction, denial, lying, delusion - because in the midst of all this: we can be healed, can be whole and can really have freedom. Truth heals and as long as we are lying about the reality we will never be healed.
Deal with the reality you have been dealt with. Either deal with it healthily or unhealthily, redemptively or neurotically, sanely or insanely. One has to face all this, let yourself feel what you know with your brain. Accept the Life you have. Say YES to your life. Fix up the relationship with God. Fix up the communion with God and in that way: one is free to handle what they have been dealt with in a multitude of ways. The key is not resignation but transformation. Not revolt but rejuvenation.
With God you can change yourself and therefore you can transfigure anything that is given to you. All sickness and suffering is because we have raptured the proper relationship with God. We are not God centered anymore - we are self centered. We are in a ME society, with MY agendas.Richard Neber, a Protestant theologian in America captured it perfectly in a prayer. A prayer that leads
"Lord give me the peace to accept what i cannot change.
The courage to change what i can
and the wisdom to know the difference."
From our Tradition three things are involved that we need to do to be healed, sane, holy and have it all together:
1. Deal with your reality, with your actual reality and your actual environment
2. Get rid of the excuses, hinderences, generalizations, cover ups that stops you from realising your reality.
3. Question..Who is your God? Make sure its the real One.