We made this sign Dio Ama L’Italia (God loves Italy) and hung it on our balcony as an encouragement to people who might pass by our building. We’ve gotten mostly positive responses. One person, a friend of Mihai’s, responded with a “thumbs up” along with the criticism, “If God really loved Italy, he wouldn’t let us stay in this situation with the virus.”
A valid concern.
God is Faithful
I look around and I see evidence of God’s love and faithfulness every where. Even in this PANDEMIC I see God at work all around me. People are suffering. Many are dying. Healthcare workers, bus drivers, grocery store workers and countless other people are giving of themselves in service of others. We are staying home (I feel grossly inadequate with my role in the effort, but that’s for another time.). Yet, I see God loving us all. Giving strength, hope, peace and comfort in this time when everything else is fear, despair, loss and grief.
And, I see people coming to the end of themselves. I am reminded every day of this truth: When we come to the end of ourselves (our strength, our ability, our capacity…) we meet God and He finishes the race for us. We are seeing how much the world needs a savior. Keep your eyes open, friends, things are about to get real up in here. I smell revival…
Gospel Reflection … John 9
Today’s Gospel reflection comes from John chapter 9. This is one of my favorite events in all of the gospels. It is rich with depth and offers so many points to wonder about. It’s quite a long passage, so we’re going to take it in pieces, like a mix of contemplative reading and lectio divina. Let’s see how God speaks to us right where we are today (hopefully in our homes #stayathome).
1 As he walked along, he [Jesus] saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
How do you take this question? I hear a lot of assumption in the disciples’ understanding of a person born with a different ability.
3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
That’s a long answer. What do you think Jesus was trying to communicate to his disciples?
6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
That’s the big event…Jesus will use this miracle to “make God’s work revealed in [this man]”.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
The neighbors’ response is interesting — disbelief and suspicion before joy and celebration. This is a HUGE event in this man’s life. They have known him his whole life as a blind man. Sad to me that no one even asked him one question about his experience. The only question they ask him is where is the man who you’re talking about… that’s puzzling to me. Is this what our communities are like?
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. [This is background information that will be important in a bit…] 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
The neighbors bring in the “authorities” to verify that they are right to be suspicious… Why is no one celebrating this?
18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” [Again, verses 22-23 give background information that will be important in a bit…]
Here the key theme is brought into the open… The “authorities” did not believe. That’s why they don’t celebrate the miracle event… they don’t believe there was any miracle to celebrate. If this man gaining his sight does not qualify as a miracle (an act of God), what ever would be cause for celebration? Again, I wonder, how are we like this?
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”
They (and by they, I mean we) just don’t want to open their (our) MINDS (notice I did not say hearts) to who Jesus is based on what they (we) can see has happened in this man’s life.
30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Their pride wins the day.
35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
This is the beginning of a beautiful new life for the man because HE BELIEVES.
39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
Mic drop… Jesus out.
Tammy and her husband Mihai live and work in Genoa, Italy. Their ministry is providing care and spiritual formation for European mission workers and mobilizing a new generation of workers to serve throughout Europe. Tammy is a spiritual director and updates their blog on LundellsinEurope.com regularly with Bible reflection activities and thought-provoking words of wisdom.