As over-commercialised as Valentine’s Day is, I thought it might be a good day to reflect on love.
And with the recent sequence of natural disasters in Australia and elsewhere, I’ve been reflecting on the danger of turning tragedies into moments for theological debate rather than loving attention and action.
In particular, I’ve been rebuked by the story of Jesus’ encounter with a man in John 9 — a man born blind:
As he 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.
There’s a huge contrast between Jesus and his disciples here.
Jesus sees the man and responds with power and compassion. Instead of being drawn into speculation about the origin or cause of the man’s condition he points forward to the works of God being revealed in him — and promptly does one of those works.
The disciples presumably also see the man. But the way they attend to him is different. You could say that they see the affliction but are blind to the man. The man — and his very human need — is eclipsed by the theological dispute they want resolved. It’s a massive love FAIL.
Worst part is I know who I tend to resemble more. And it ain’t pretty…