These past few days are unprecedented in my life. The closest I can associate it with is when I had to do my 30 days silent retreat before my ordination. But even then, while remaining silent, I was free to take long reflective walks unlike this present time and go for Mass daily. To say that these are challenging times would be an understatement. Even though we are unable to participate physically in the Eucharist, the Word of God accompanies us in this trying period.
On this 4th Sunday of Lent, the gospel is about the blind man who comes to Jesus. John makes it a point to mention that this man had been blind from birth because this is going to be the point of discussion between Jesus and His disciples. So, who sinned… this man or his parents? Was his blindness due to his sin?
The question raised by the disciples of Jesus is not too far-fetched because there are those who are asking whether this pandemic is caused by human sinfulness? Is this the “Great Flood” similar to the one Noah experienced? Has God decided to push the reset button? These are questions that can only have rhetorical answers because we can never fully understand the mind of God.
It is indeed a tragedy that so many people have lost their lives in this pandemic and I cannot bring myself to think that God is punishing this generation… a loving God does not punish! However, this has brought us down to our knees and made us all take a step back… to look at life as a whole. This is not the reset button, but the pause button.
When the blind man receives his sight, he has a new vision of things. He begins to notice people and things in a new light. In the past, he may have had only a mental image of what things could possibly be but now, through Christ, this new vision has given new meaning to his life.
This pandemic has made us pause whether we like it or not. This could be the time for us to reset our vision, beginning with putting Christ in the centre of all things. For the blind man, this new vision is a moment of enlightenment and liberation. Not only does Jesus give him sight to see but also takes away his sorrow and pain so that he can now begin to love, care and reach out.
This pandemic is now teaching us to love, care and reach out. As we practice social distancing, let us not forget the elderly, poor/needy, the people that we have often forgotten due to the busyness of our lives. If they need supplies, let us find ways to help purchase and deliver directly to them. If financial aid is needed, contact your network of friends or the parish could also be called upon to assist.
Instead of making people feel that God is punishing humanity, let us find ways to show that God comes to heal humanity through us. To heal the world, we need to move from selfishness to generosity, from apathy to concern, from darkness to light, from external restriction to inner freedom and finally from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. We will surely see the ‘dove with the olive leaf’ and when we do, may God give us a new vision, enlightenment, and liberation to see all things anew for humanity now and forever. Amen.