As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 8:1-2
I grew up in a loving, Christian home where I never had to worry about food, shelter, clothing, or security. I had caring, involved parents who instilled in me a confidence that I could do anything. So, I went to medical school, becoming a physician. I’m hesitant to admit this, but now, I sometimes look down on those whom I consider to be failing at life. I like to think that I’m a self-made man, and that I’ve succeeded where others have struggled.
The reality is that I was dealt a pretty good hand in life and still, I became addicted to pain medications. The fact that my addiction was front page news in the local paper should give me cause for tremendous humility. Often though, I still look down on others, criticizing their status or condition. The ironic thing is, there’s probably a neurosurgeon in some city, who would look down on my life, considering me to be white trash.
As ridiculous as it may be, for some of us, it’s simply our nature to be critical of others. When someone is struggling, it’s far easier for us to criticize than to practice compassion.
This is what happened in today’s passage. In the story, Jesus and the disciples encountered a man who’d been blind since birth. The disciple’s natural response was to ask Jesus what the man or his parents had done to deserve such a wretched fate.
We often do this. We see those in need and find that it’s easier to look down on their poor life choices, blaming them, than it is to help. It alleviates any responsibility we have to get involved if we can convince ourselves that they deserve what they’re getting. You made your own bed. Now it’s God’s will that you lie in it.
Jesus however, had a different response. He saw the man’s struggle as an opportunity to live out God’s will. In love, he did what he could – miraculous healing in this case – to help the man. We may not be able to perform miracles, but we can abandon our ridiculous, condescending pride. We can love those in need around us, sharing with them the grace that God has shown us. God’s love and grace may be just the miracle they require.