Scripture scholar Thomas Brodie writes of the man born blind: His first words, ”ego eimi” mean literally, “I am.” But there’s more to this than a simple self-identification. They also place him in line with God’s self-definition in the Hebrew scripture, “I am who am,” and Jesus’ string of identifiers elsewhere in John: I am the bread of life (6:35) and light of the world. This spunky, uneducated man represents us all, made in God’s image. (The Gospel According to John New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 55.)
Furthermore, the formerly blind man models how to trust. He’s so grateful to Jesus he believes him completely, and bows in reverence to him. He may not have read anything, but he stands in sharp contrast to those who may be more educated, but desperately cling to a tired tradition. Their blindness keeps them from seeing how awesomely God works in the present.
We shouldn’t pick on them when we all have our blind spots. This Lent is pervaded by news of the coronavirus, and it’s still unclear how much of the anxiety around it is warranted. But several bright signs showed people breaking through the blinders.
One was Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf who allowed the docking of the Grand Princess cruise ship, with confirmed cases aboard. The ship had sailed in circles for days off the coast, a nightmare for passengers who’d anticipated a luxury cruise to Hawaii. “It’s the right thing to do,” she said about opening the port. “We have to not let our fear dictate or impede our humanity.”
That compassion was echoed by Eric Drake, who held aloft a sign as passengers disembarked: “Welcome home! U r not a #!” He referred to the president’s reluctance to let the ship land because he didn’t want the numbers of US cases to increase.
Several doctors have also raised voices of sanity, criticizing the waves of fear and stockpiling, the theft of masks from hospitals where they’re vitally needed. Most of all, they question the messages we’re sending our children about the loss of reason and altruism in the face of something we don’t yet fully understand. Blindness and insight take different forms, but have characterized humanity since biblical times.
Retreat led by Kathy Coffey: “Those Feisty Gospel Women”
San Damiano Center, 710 Highland Dr., Danville, CA (925)-837-9141
www.sandamiano.org March 27-29, 2020