I returned to Kansas City on Saturday after my lengthy sojourn in Myanmar. While it is wonderful to be home, I feel that I leave a little more of my heart there with each pilgrimage. Many students and faculty of Myanmar Institute of Theology would like the freedom to come and go that Americans enjoy. Every time one from Myanmar leaves the country, he or she must have a letter of invitation from a school or church or other contact here.
It was a bit of a jolt to leave 102 degree weather and return to snow in late March. After nearly three weeks in sandals and light clothing, bundling up is hard to do!
As a part of the doctoral seminar on Incarnational Theology, we viewed “The Gospel of John,” a film that uses only the words of the Fourth Gospel. It is visually stunning and helpful to hear the whole narrative in two hours. The healing of the man born blind in chapter 9 is a richly textured scene, with Jesus mixing saliva and dirt to put on his eyes. Stumbling with his walking stick, he makes his way to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes, as Jesus had instructed.
Once he can see, his life gets more complicated as incredulous neighbors bring him to the Pharisees. He becomes another flash point in the building conflict between the signs Jesus is performing and the religious authorities that want to silence his claims. The one with opened eyes sees clearly, while those who claim to see are displaying spiritual blindness.
As he was interrogated about the miraculous healing, the man born blind declares:
Well, this is news! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes! We know that God doesn’t hear sinners, but that if people are devout and obey God’s will, God listens to them. It is unheard of that anyone ever gave sight to a person blind from birth. If this one were not from God, he could never have done such a thing! (John 9:30-33)
For this testimony, he was put out of the synagogue. When Jesus heard of this expulsion, he found the healed man and asked, “Do you believe in the Chosen One?” The man answered, “Who is this One, that I may believe?”
“You are looking at him,” Jesus replied. The healed one said, “Yes, I believe,” and worshipped Jesus.”
The story ends with Jesus saying, “I came into this world to execute justice—to make the sightless see and the seeing blind” (v. 39). Believing allows one to see God’s work; disbelief blinds one to the One God has sent to transform the world.
As we examine this text on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, I pray for new sight that I might recognize God’s ongoing work in our midst. I want to see more clearly.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.
* Jesus cures the man born blind – JESUS MAFA. Jesus cures the man born blind, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48383 [retrieved March 24, 2014].
“The vocation of the “pastor-theologian” is one that appeals deeply to my personal sense of calling. I have never felt particularly gifted as a “shepherd pastor,” or a “CEO pastor,” but have always had an abiding spiritual curiosity that has led me to seek God both intellectually and in community. Working on a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree at Central gave me the valuable freedom to explore theology and biblical studies more deeply than I could have imagined. I not only learned how to conduct research in my field of New Testament studies, but I learned how to better form my own questions in search of answers. Central helped me to realize my own vision of making biblical scholarship accessible to the local parish, a vision that I hope to carry well into my future.”