There is something fundamentally human about the need to know why something happened. I assume it is fundamentally human because my friends and acquaintances all seem to do it and Jesus’ disciples did it thousands of years ago.
The Gospel lesson for today is the whole of John 9. The story revolves around a man who was born blind and was subsequently healed by Jesus. The story is kicked off by Jesus’ disciples asking Jesus who or what was responsible for the man’s blindness; was it his own sin or his parents’ sin? Leaving aside the oddly preemptive nature of the notion of his own sin causing him to be born blind, Jesus sidesteps the entire question by replying that it was neither of those possibilities. In fact, there is no sense that anyone’s sin had anything to do with it at all. Jesus’ exact words were, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (John 9:3 NRSV) This particular thing, this man’s blindness was not the result of anything. It was not judgement. It was not punishment. It was an opportunity for what God does to be revealed. The story, with some of the most amusing moments in all of the Bible, continues to walk us away from the idea that everything happens for some immediately discernible reason.
As I was considering the text for this Sunday, I kept coming back to the problem of things happening for no reason. At least, for no reason that we can see or figure out or (occasionally) accept. As I was thinking about the problem it struck me that the biggest problem with looking for reasons in everything, by insisting on an explanation, we blind ourselves to what God may be doing. If we are devoting all of our effort, all our resources to figuring out why one of those things that “just happens” happened, we will have no resources to see God at work. As I mentioned in at least one of the sermons, there is never a time when God is not with us but we are allowed to not see God if we so choose. We can become willfully, if unintentionally, blind to what God is doing.
Knox Presbyterian Whose fault is it anyway? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Whose fault is it anyway? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)