FOR THE EXCLUDED
The man is blind from birth. Neither he nor his parents have any guilt, but his destiny will be marked forever. People look at him as a sinner punished by God. Jesus’ disciples ask him if the sin is from the blind man or from his parents.
Jesus sees it in a different light. From what he has seen, he only thinks about rescuing him from that disgraceful life of begging, despised by all as a sinner. Jesus feels himself called by God to defend, welcome, and cure precisely those who live excluded and humiliated.
After a laborious cure in which the blind man also has to collaborate with Jesus, he discovers light for the first time. The encounter with Jesus has changed his life. Finally he can enjoy a life of dignity, without fear of being an embarrassment for anyone.
He’s wrong. The religious leaders feel themselves obligated to control the purity of their religion. They know who isn’t a sinner and who is. They will decide if he can be received into the religious community. That’s why they throw him out.
The cured beggar openly confesses that Jesus was the one who came to him and cured him, but the Pharisees irritably reject that: «We know that that man is a sinner». The man persists in defending Jesus: he is a prophet, sent by God. The Pharisees can’t put up with that: «Are you trying to teach us, and you a sinner through and through ever since you were born?».
The Gospel writer says that «when Jesus heard they had ejected him, he went in search of him». The exchange is brief. When Jesus asks him if he believes in the Messiah, the expulsed man says: «Sir, tell me who he is so that I may believe in him». Jesus answers him from the depths of his heart: «He’s not far from you. You have seen him; he is speaking to you». The beggar tells him: «Lord, I believe».
That’s how Jesus is. He always comes to meet those who aren’t officially welcome in a religion. He doesn’t abandon those who seek and love him though they are excluded from the religious communities and institutions. Those who don’t fit in our churches, have a privileged place in Jesus’ heart.
Who will bring Jesus’ message today to those groups who at any time hear the unjust public condemnation of blind religious leaders; who come to Christian celebrations with fear of being recognized; who can’t receive communion at peace in our Masses; who see themselves obligated to live their faith in Jesus in the silence of their hearts, almost secretly and clandestinely?
My unknown brothers and sisters, don’t ever forget: when Christians reject you, Jesus welcomes you.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf