“Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see your face
Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see.” Jesse Manibusan
4th Sunday of Lent marked our getting past the season’s halfway point. I was looking through past Mass journals and noticed many entries indicated that this is the most challenging time. I have notes about Gospel readings and homilies which discuss different trials; this is the time when the journey gets most difficult. Not surprisingly, I’ve been reflecting on my own struggles in the last two weeks. I hope the next few weeks and Holy Week brings me more serenity, patience, and understanding.
This week’s Gospel was from John and was the story of the blind man who gained sight from Jesus. Both the reading and the homily show how we make sense of challenges, pain and grief. A belief from that time, and one that has continued to this day, is that bad things happen because of what we have done. Some call it karma. It can also be seen as the negative consequences of negative actions. We all fall prey to black and white thinking. As a disciplinarian both in my career and in my role as a parent, I know that many behaviors are the result of poor decisions. That doesn’t mean a person deserves less sympathy or empathy. We all make mistakes; being judgmental makes us no better.
The blind man was an outcast. His family had not protected him; he was forced to survive as a homeless beggar. His parents were probably judged harshly. They felt insecure about their place in the community so they quickly declined defending him. Jesus chose to make conversation with him; Jesus always looked to serve everyone. The Pharisees didn’t believe the blind man was worthy of salvation. So they were skeptical of his healing.
Why do awful things happen? It’s a question we all ponder. I got teary-eyed as Father discussed this Gospel. I know from personal experience about painful losses. It sounds strange to say that these things happen and can help us to see God’s glory. Tragedies occur on a global scale. It seems cruel for God to allow these things to happen. Yet we could grow in faith by changing our perspective. We are all blind. We need someone to wipe our eyes clean and to open us up to see. It takes effort, experience, and discipline.
I often think about the people I have lost. I think of my friend Brett when I’ve been faced with challenges or challenging people. I ask how is it right that a good man who was positive, loving, warm, and open-hearted was taken from us in such a horrible way and these other people who seem to lack conscience, morals, or the ability to love have life? It’s not for me to judge or disbelieve. I have to understand that all is for God’s glory. I struggle to grasp that concept. I’ve made peace with the loss. I have yet to accept that terrible people can help us to see God. I am still unable to see. But I know I need to be open to truly see God for the first time.