v. 3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed through him."
For these last two weeks before Easter I'm switching to the Gospel reading for the day. We'll be reading through John chapters 9-12.
Today's reading is the first haf of the familiar story of Jesus' healing of the blind man on the sabbath. The story begins with a question from the disciples, who have noticed the man. "Who sinned," they asked, "this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" They were repeating a popular conception of the nature of illness, in particular what we would call "disability." It was a punishment for sin.
That conception is still around. It is sometimes still our first impulse when something goes wrong. "What did I do?" As a priest, I have been asked that question scores of times. I have asked it myself.
Jesus dismisses that way of thinking, however. Disability is not the result of sin. But then he seems to say that it is given by God so that the works of God may be revealed. But he doesn't actually say "given by God." And I choose to read the statement in a more general than specific way. I choose to take the statement to say that, whatever our circumstances, we are all born to reveal the works of God.
I have my own experience of illness and it is an occasionally difficult burden to bear. I don't believe that it was given to me by God. But I do believe that God's works can be revealed through it, which is to say that God's continuing presence with me, giving me the grace, strength and courage to persevere can be seen by others, and this is to God's glory.
How does your life reveal the works of God? How is God calling you to reveal his presence with you?