First Reading: 1Sm 16:1b. 6-7. 10-13; Psalm: 23. R. v. 1; Second Reading: Eph 5:8-14; Gospel: Jn 9:1-41
FROM REFLECTION TO FAITH
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
Last Sunday, exactly a week ago, we read from the gospel of John a very detailed conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. A conversation which culminated in the conversion of this woman. Today, we are presented again with another long narrative from the gospel of John on the healing of a man born blind. Although these two narratives are similar in character in terms of their lengthiness and the conversion that occurred therein; there is however a difference between how the Samaritan woman and this blind man came to faith.
While the Samaritan woman got converted as Jesus gradually led her into a deep conversation regarding her life and beliefs; the blind man on the other hand came to faith upon reflection on what happened to him as he talked about it before his people. This was the changer for this man.
To start with, it appeared as though this man and his people never believed that he would see again. Perhaps it was because he was born blind and had grown into a man in that condition. Or because of the conventional belief that his predicament was as a result of his sins. He even resorted to begging as a way of sustaining himself and accepting his fate. But Jesus changed his story. We could see the reaction of his people when he regained his sight. They wondered, ‘“Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?”’ Some of them said that it was he. But others said it was not him but someone who looked like him. But the blind man said, “I am the man.” His people couldn’t believe what had happened.
At this point, this man was still at the level of excitement. He didn’t even know who Jesus was or cared to find him. For when his people asked him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” The very time that this man began to be convinced that Jesus was from God was when he was interrogated as he stood before the Pharisees. For the more the Pharisees asked him questions, the more he reflected on his experience and the more he believed that Jesus was a prophet from God.
When the Pharisees asked him how he regained his sight; he told them that Jesus put clay on his eyes, and when he washed, he received his sight. Then he was asked again, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He answered, “He is a prophet.” And when the Pharisees sent for his parents who came and testified that he was truly born blind; the faith of this man in Jesus increased the more. And he confessed again that he was once blind but Jesus opened his eyes. And then he asked the Pharisees if they wanted to be Jesus’ disciple.
And when the Pharisees rebuked him and declared their allegiance to Moses and that they do not know where Jesus came from; what this man said next was deep and enlightening. He said to them, “You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshipper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” When the Pharisees heard this, they became very angry that he dared to teach them. And they cast him out of their synagogue. When he left their presence, he met Jesus and professed his faith and believed in him.
The story of the healing of this blind man tells us that our knowledge and faith in God can increase exponentially when we reflect and talk about the remarkable experiences of our life. Most times, we miss what God is saying to us in our experiences because we have refused to pay close attention to the details of those experiences. Sometimes we dismiss some key moments in our lives regarding them as mere chance or accident thereby missing what God was saying to us in them. Nothing in life happens by chance. Every event of life happens for a purpose and has a meaning. And if we do not reflect or talk about them, we may not decipher what God could be saying through those life events.
Three years ago, I had a motor accident and my car somersaulted thrice and landed by the roadside. The car was badly dented leaving the front and back windshield shattered. Thankfully, I was on my seat belt. So I survived the accident unscathed losing no item in the car. But upon reflection, I knew that what saved me was more than the seat belt. Perhaps God decided that I still have more years to live. Because many have died in a less serious motor accident even while on their seat belts.
When we survive an illness that almost took our life; we can easily attribute our survival solely to the efficiency of doctors and medicine, and deny the involvement of God in it. But if we reflected deeply, we may discover that certain circumstances may have impeded our survival but for the intervention of a greater power beyond us. If we remembered that doctors and nurses are humans too and that medicine can fail, then maybe we can begin to understand that it is God who holds our life and not some medical team.
If we got our dream job, it may not be all about our qualifications. It could be that God is calling us to use that passion for what we love to serve our community and change our world. Remember, we may not be more qualified than those who were denied that very same job we got. From our experiences God hopes to bring to our consciousness certain realities that may be lacking in our lives. But if we failed to reflect on our life’s experiences or talk about them, we may not grasp what God is trying to say to us.
In every remarkable event in our life, we should learn to ask, “What is God saying to me through this experience?” A flashback through that experience may reveal to us certain truths we may have been searching for in a long time. Let us try not to see or interpret life experiences on a surface level else we make mistakes. A deep reflection unravels truths that are beyond appearances. In the first reading, we saw how Samuel got it all wrong when he based his choice of a king by appearances. But the Lord reminded him that he does not look at appearances but the heart.
For us to see and understand what God is trying to say to us in our experiences; we have to dig deeper into those experiences through reflection else we lose the message. We should not let the excitement of the things that happen in our lives rob us of what God intends to say to us from that experience. If this blind man came to faith by reflecting and talking about what had happened to him; then God could be telling us how blind we are to have missed certain blessings in life by our failure to reflect on our own experiences.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, open our eyes that we may see. Amen.