Living the Gospel – March 22, 2020

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As Jesus passed by, he saw a beggar, blind from birth. His disciples asked him,

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned….”

Many years ago, just outside a small town in the northern mountains, a family struggled to survive. I knew them – rather, I knew their children. Their home was a reclaimed shed that was impossible to keep clean and their children wore ragged clothes, often dirty and certainly not “up to the town standards” that the rest of their friends enjoyed. As a child, I didn’t understand why they were shunned, as the children were nice, and their parents tried to give them a good life. They even tried a few times to attend various churches…but they just didn’t fit in.

I was told that some people believed “the sins of the parents” were borne by their children. After all, the parents never married, they only worked at the most menial jobs and they were descended from some families that townspeople – for generations – had called “dirt poor.” I didn’t understand – how could children be shamed for a situation for which they had no responsibility? As I grew older, I hoped that it would be possible for some of the children’s eyes to be opened to a larger and happier view of life. Did they have a good future – even graduate from high school?

One day I walked home with one of the girls and she invited me in to meet her mother. Her mom was sitting in a rocking chair, reading her bible aloud. She skipped over some of the words she didn’t know, but it didn’t spoil the message she was sharing. She said that she learned to pray from the minister who gave her the bible and so she prayed every day that her children would have a better life.

God answered her prayer. Not all her children were successful (but that certainly isn’t the only criteria for a good life, is it?) but two finished high school, all of them got jobs and one girl eventually graduated from college. The trials of the shed, the love of their parents, the prayers of their mother, the blessings of the bible and prayers of the minister had opened their eyes and completed their work – at least for that generation.

There are many other analogies we can use this Lent to explain “healing our blindness.” Let us pray to be able to have empathy for others, discern the difference between good and evil, poverty and wealth and be grateful for the healings, peace and love we find in our family and friends…

Dorothy A. Hathway, OCDS