Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Getting Grilled

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 judgement 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. John 9:18-41

"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" I can remember laughing so hard I fell on the floor when I watched the Monty Python sketch about the Spanish Inquisition. As someone, who since that time, has gone to seminary, been ordained deacon, priest and bishop, gone to get a second masters and a PhD, I now have personal experiences that felt like the Spanish Inquisition. We can laugh now, but there was a time when anyone who believed, even slightly differently than church authority, was burned or tortured to death. The tolerance for any small teaching that differed from the traditions was literally the end of your life. It was death. And people who were tortured asked for death rather than a continuance of their painful life. Nothing that the church can dish out now is anything like the Spanish Inquisition, but it can feel like it to some people. People with unique perspectives, who are just trying to be faithful and who know God's love and want to serve with all their being. Orthodoxy is truly a wonderful thing and our ability to use orthodoxy to crush others is disheartening at best. We want the doors open wide for us and everyone else who follows must take only the straight and narrow.

The man who was healed of blindness could not enjoy his incredible, life-changing gift from God. The religious authorities grilled him several times and treated him with disdain and disbelief. Like a cross examination in court, they were ruthless to a man who wanted to revel in his tender new sight. They would gut him of his miracle for the sake of orthodoxy and their fear of change. They would torture him, if just with words, so that they might be a tad more comfortable.

Today I ask God to help us all be patient and forgiving with those who are different, those who express their faith in ways that makes us uncomfortable. For those who have been made whole, there is no stopping their faithfulness and their zeal. God put it in them and in us. May we all open wide the realm of God love, open our hearts to the strange ones and know that in every generation and every day God through Christ is making and remaking us all.

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