What Would Jesus Do
Fourth Sunday in Lent (A)
My dear encountered couples:
Sickness, handicaps, disfigurements, and other disorders can happen to us for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it might be our own fault, like catching a cold from going outside without enough clothing, or getting a headache from straining our eyes watching television without some other kind of light in the room. We might find ourselves born with physical or mental disabilities, acquire them in an accident, or just catch an invisible bug that is going around. Fear and worry can cause sickness. So can sin. For sin cuts us off from God, the source of all good health.
Among the Jewish people was a prevalent theory that sicknesses and handicaps were caused either by the personal sins of the people who had them, or passed down to them as a result of the sins of their parents. Jesus wasn’t interested in putting the blame on Mame nor on anyone else for their ailments. He wanted his disciples and us to know that these things are to be turned in to opportunities for doing good. That’s what he was going to do with this man born blind, that’s what we are to do when we or others have disorders. Use them for good!
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, was it his sin or his parents’ that caused him to be born blind?’ ‘Neither,’ answered Jesus. ‘It was no sin, either of this man or of his parents. Rather, it was to let God’s works show forth in him.’” Then Jesus restored the man’s sight. As Jesus and his Father use human troubles to show their love for people, we are to do the same.
Let’s not get bogged down with blaming people for their troubles and misfortunes. Let us not point accusing fingers at anyone who gets AIDS, at anyone who gets lung cancer from smoking, at anyone who gets crippled from driving while drunk. Let us not say it is their own fault. It might be and it might not be. Either way it isn’t our job or right to throw around blame. No one has made any of us judge and jury? As followers of Christ our job is to be compassionate. Our Christian duty is to help those who need help, regardless of the reasons for their troubles.
There was a man that a priest found sleeping on a park bench on a cold night in January. The man was drunk. The priest woke him up and took him back to the rectory for a good, night’s sleep in a warm and comfortable bed, followed in the morning by ham and eggs. (Try not to think of the cholesterol. Just enjoy the thought.)
Later in the day the priest took him home to his relatives. They wouldn’t let the man in the door. Said his drinking and his troubles were brought on through his own fault and they had had enough. They refused to do anything for him. And so, it was off to social services to see if they could help. A week later the priest found the same man in the same park, on the same bench, sound asleep. It was the man’s own fault, wasn’t it?
Let’s face it. We all do things that can bring troubles upon ourselves. If nothing has happened to us recently, maybe it can rightly be said to be due to our self-discipline and self-control. Maybe we can pat ourselves on the back. We might not have gotten the flu this winter because we got flu shots, will never get lung cancer because we don’t smoke, won’t catch cold because we wear enough clothes when we go outside. And we might eat right and regular, not to but mention we floss our teeth every night. Congratulations! An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. A little caution to prevent a crisis is certainly preferable to a lot of fixing up afterwards.
But a very probable reason we don’t come down with the same troubles many other people have might be able to be chalked up to pure luck, if not special protection from God. We don’t always know, do we? As they say, we can’t really judge another, like that drunken man, until we walk in his shoes - and sleep on the same park bench.
Let’s remind ourselves again of what Jesus said about the man born blind: “It was no sin either of this man or of his parents. Rather it was to let God's works show forth in him.”
Jesus is no longer walking around in the flesh. He’s walking around in us. God himself is in us. God’s works are to be shown forth through us. We are to help with, take care of, and try to find solutions for the troubles of others. We are to doctor them, nurse them, support them in their illnesses and fears. We are to counsel them, advise them, do whatever we can for them. One very important thing we are to do is strongly encourage and teach them to help themselves. When we do whatever we do for the good of others we are in essence doing what Jesus did for this blind man. We are letting the works of God and the love of God be shown to the world.
And so, let us not point accusing fingers at people for their troubles, saying they brought it on themselves, and then turning our backs and walking away. Let us do what Jesus Christ would do? And what is that? We already know, don’t we? We don’t need anyone to spell it out for us. Then let’s do it! Let’s show forth the works of God!