When Jesus heals the blind man on the sabbath, he ruffles many feathers among the Pharisees. Perhaps it ought to have. The act upsets the established order in all the most important ways. For one, Jesus dispels the idea that the blindness was caused by evil done either by the blind man or his parents. Nowadays, the very notion of inherited guilt is dismissed, along with the idea that bad things only happen to bad people.
Jesus healing blindness is also a metaphor for the way he brings light to the world, a metaphor he makes explicit in a way guaranteed to upset the Pharisees. He tells them “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” He tells them that due to their confidence, their sins remain. And to crown it all, he cures the blind man on the sabbath, violating the strict ‘no work’ rule.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has explained that “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Here he goes even further. “We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
In Matthew 5:14, Jesus says “You are the light of the world.” Maryknoll Lay Missioner Judy Walter and her ministry at the Lake House of Prayer in Tanzania is one example of Maryknoll missioners sharing God’s light in the world.
“Our ministry is to teach, counsel, and practice contemplative prayer together with all who come to pray here,” Judy said. “In the local Swahili language, the word for contemplative prayer is “taamuli”, which means to shine the light, or to allow the light within to shine.”
“Besides our guests who come for retreat, those who come to practice ‘taamuli’ with us on a daily basis are our neighbors, the ‘anawim,’ Hebrew for the poor and lowly ones. These neighbors live on the margins and often struggle to feed, clothe, and educate their children. They come to spend an hour in silence, listening to God, finding an oasis of peace amid their struggles, coming home to themselves. It is these people, our neighbors, who in their faithfulness to prayer, in their need for God, are the very heart of our House of Prayer. They are our praying community. As we practice ‘taamuli’ together every day, we are allowing that inner light to shine even amid struggles and difficulties.”
Judy went on to say, “It is our deep belief here in this House of Prayer, that the power of this inner light will eventually overcome all the darkness, violence, and cruelty of the world. This is the apostolic dimension of ‘taamuli’ – it places us at the very heart of the spiritual balance of the universe.”
Questions for reflection
Who or what are sources of light in your life?
What are new ways you can live as a child of light?
God of all creation,
How splendid and majestic is the world you created! It reveals your glory; it teaches us about you.
When you made us in your image, you gave us this command: care for the world and for all the creatures in it, for this is our common home.
Yet your holy creation cries out, for our home is “burdened and laid waste,” scorched and scarred. Come among us that we might remember our interdependence.
Let us see the face of your Son in those who suffer from the destruction of our common home. Help us to be stewards who honor you in the world you have made for the good of all creation and for future generations.
May your justice reign forever! Amen.
– From the Querida Amazonia Study Guide
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop
Consider ditching single use plastics. Plastics are made from fossil fuels and four percent of the world’s annual petroleum production is converted directly into making plastics. Another four percent gets burned as fuel in the process. Only approximately seven percent of plastics are recycled. Many municipalities in the United States have stopped recycling plastic bags because they are difficult to process and have little to no resale value. Plastic disposable bags clog our shorelines and suffocate birds and marine life.
Much of the non-biodegradable waste ends up in the ocean, including into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: a ‘debris convergence zone’ roughly three times the size of France.
See what biodegradable materials can do by exploring paper and fabric alternatives. Reducing consumption is the most sustainable option, but at the end of a products life cycle, biodegradability allows for the complete elimination of waste. Learn more about composting to see the renewability of the materials in action.
This reflection was published in the 2023 Lenten Reflection Guide: Inspired by Laudato Si’ from the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Featured image: Christmas celebration in South Sudan (Photo by Maryknoll Lay Missioner Gabe Hurrish)