Opening question for sharing
The Gospel story tells of a blind man who is healed and can see for the first time in his life, but no one listens to his story. Pick one of the following questions to share.
When have you needed or received more light to see? When have you not been listened to? Who was or is best at listening to you?
1 The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.
6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 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, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
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 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
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.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
The neighbors and those who had seen him
before as a beggar began to ask,
“Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”
Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying,
“No, but it is someone like him.”
He kept saying, “I am the man.”
John tells a long story full of irony and comedy,
almost slapstick in places:
Jesus heals a man born blind and everybody has a fit.
Pharisees don’t think it’s a good idea,
his parents don’t think it’s safe to say it’s true,
friends don’t think it’s him,
and detractors don’t think it’s possible.
Everybody’s trying to make it something else.
Nobody but Jesus and the healed man seem ready
to just let what is be what is.
The story suggests a Lenten discipline of allowing.
Allow yourself to be healed.
Allow someone else to be healed.
Let someone you look down on be healed.
Allow people to change. Or not.
Let people freak out without joining them.
Let someone criticize you without stopping them.
After all, God allows.
God did not command light, God allowed it:
“Let there be light.”
Only when there is ample room for what is
is there room for what may yet be.
Loosen your grip.
Stop trying to make things be what you want.
Let there be great letting in your life.
Let God have their way with you.
Let it be.
Go back in time and become a participant in this story. Use all five senses in imagination to picture the scene, hear the words, look at facial expressions, hear the surrounding sounds, smell the dust or mud smell. Read one paragraph at a time, closing your eyes as you imagine each part of the story.
At the end, take time to speak by yourself with Jesus. Ask anything about the story or about your own life, desires, and concerns right now. Take time to listen for answers in the form of feelings, memories, a song lyric, a word or phrase, a look on Jesus’ face, an emotion, an idea.
Closing poems and prayers
Psalm 23: a meditation
Love, you shepherd me;
generously, you place my life in my hands.
You rest me in the meadow of your presence,
I drink from the gentle brook of your peace.
You are my next breath, and the next.
You are my path, my steps.
The way to life leads through death;
you go there, and I willingly follow you,
your presence beside me,
your wisdom before me.
Despite my fears and doubts this life is a feast.
You embrace me with such love,
feed me with such delight.
Your goodness and mercy shadow me;
and with every breath
I am returned again and again to you.
Some people need a good talking to.
But almost everybody needs a good listening to.
Being reflected changes light. Being heard changes people.
Let their speaking be all there is.
Silence your own noise so you can really hear them.
Pocket your thoughts. Table your advice.
Listen like the earth listens to the rain.
Dry earth doesn't take in the rain very well.
Practice listening so you can hear.
Listen like the violin listens to the string.
Listen deeply: to their soul, their silences.
Listen like God listens to your prayers.
In the clear space of being heard
people may hear themselves for the first time,
hear echoes of the divine between the words.
Someone who hears you hearing them
can believe God has heard them as well.
Listen for God's listening in people.
we can listen each other into wholeness,
listen people to life.