What did I do to deserve this?


As parents, we tell our children that things we do result in consequences. The child throws a toy against the wall and they learn the consequence, a broken toy. Sometimes the action is more benign, you accidentally leave a plate of food on the table and your dog eats it. Society frequently offers a similar message; drink and drive and you get arrested. Actions have consequences.

What we hear in today’s Gospel, however, shows us that sometimes we inappropriately connect actions and consequences. In the reading today we hear about a man born blind. The disciples ask Jesus, “who sinned, the man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The mistake they made in this instance was connecting a sin with a physical ailment. They mistakenly assume that a spiritual ailment, sin, is the direct cause of a physical ailment, blindness. Jesus uses this moment to teach them that sometimes physical ailments, like blindness, provide an opportunity for the grace and glory of God to be manifest.

Sometimes we do the same thing. From time to time we hear from someone, or maybe even ourselves, that their sickness was the result of something they had done. For example, one says, I have cancer as an adult because I stole a bike when I was a teen. The two simply are not connected. The sin has nothing to do with the sickness, yet sometimes, out of a sense of guilt, we falsely connect the two. The cause and effect do not match.

As Christians, we must always keep our eyes open to the possibility of God’s grace within our lives. The grace of forgiveness of sin to heal our inner self and the grace of God’s presence in the hands of those who care for us in our sickness. The man who was healed gives witness to the religious leaders who were seeking a reason to condemn Jesus, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” These are the words of a simple man who had come to realize the essential, intimate relationship between man and God.

There must be discernment to connect what we do and what happens in our lives. As we fortify our relationship with Christ our eyes are opened and we witness the impact of Christ upon our lives. Our imperfection is made whole through the love and grace of the Lord. We pray, ‘that which is imperfect be made perfect’ through the grace of the Holy Spirit. By this grace, our ability to see is impacted in profound ways. We are given sight to see that to which we were blind. Just as the blind man received his sight through faith, we too proclaim, “I believe.”