Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A

Inspired by John 9:1-41

“As [Jesus] 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.’”  John 9:1-3 (NRSV)

Our culture emphasizes personal responsibility.  When good things come our way, we point to our own hard work or good deeds as the reason why we deserve such fortune.  When calamity befalls us or others, we find reasons to cast blame so that such misery is justified.

But as devoted as we are to the idea of cause and effect, the world doesn’t always work that way.  Sometimes good things happen for no discernable reason whatsoever, just as misery sometimes comes to those who have done nothing to deserve it.

In the absence of observable cause, we’re tempted to assign credit or blame to God.  After all, God knows people’s innermost thoughts and feelings, and therefore can bless or curse based on things known only to him.  So we look at people’s good or ill fortune and assume it’s reflective of that person’s overall worthiness.

But things that we so quickly dismiss as curses for sinful behavior are sometimes opportunities for God’s blessings.  God doesn’t make bad things happen in order to make a point about his goodness; God is present with us in all situations, good and bad, and can reveal his grace in the most dire of circumstances.

Don’t worry so much about whether one’s circumstances reflect God’s punishment or reward; look instead for how God’s grace might be revealed in any situation, for his presence is certainly there.

Let us pray.  Compassionate God, you are with us in good times and in bad.  Help us to recognize your blessings in unlikely places, that we may be comforted by your steadfast presence.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.