“I am the light of the world.” Jn. 9:5
Jesus notices a blind beggar along the road and seeks him out. Even though the man didn’t know who Jesus was, he received the gift of sight. His friends and neighbours watched in amazement as Jesus applied a mud pack to the eyes and told him to wash in the freshwater pool of Siloam. His obedience resulted in healing. Because the miracle was performed on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were upset. Only God can work on the Sabbath. “Who do you think he is!” they asked the blind man. “He is a prophet,” he declared. His meeting with Jesus enlightened him to the point where he understood more than the professional religious leaders.
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. . . . 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 17 So they said to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them. . . 22 His parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” . . .
35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
Many people have a limited understanding of who Jesus is. Their belief system is formed by second hand stories, media stereotypes, family mythology, or distant childhood memories of being taken to church by a grandparent. They don’t recognize God’s work in the world because their eyes are shut to the possibility that God is active and interested in them. It’s rather like being unable to notice details on a Rembrandt when the lights are turned off in the art gallery.
Because it’s unpopular to be identified with Jesus, even if they have a sense of God, they hide behind the phrase, “I’m not at all religious.” It is to those who are sitting on the sidelines that Jesus turns his attention. Their first encounter may be as a result of illness, or being backed into a corner with nowhere to turn. “There are no atheists in foxholes.” God is the hound of heaven who pursues us to the end. A small act of recognition that he exists can open the unbeliever to infinite possibilities. Once the light is turned on, the black and white monochrome of their religion is flooded with colour and they see details they never noticed before. For believers standing patiently by, waiting for those moments, it is the opportunity to shine the light of the world into dark corners.
Lord, Help us to recognize your work all around us. May we be open to sharing our faith with those who have no religious connections, even if it makes us vulnerable. You do the work, we simply turn on the light to the possibility that you exist. Your love does the rest. Amen