We Suffer from Blindness Too

2 March 2008 4th Sunday of Lent
John 9, 1-38 The Man Born Blind

There are many beliefs about illnesses and disabilities during the time of Jesus which we still see today in a different form. The Jews believed that any disability is a punishment from God for the sin one committed in the past or for the sins of one’s ancestors. For people born with birth defects, they are definitely suffering from the sins of their parents. They based it on Exodus 34, 7: “God does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” His fate therefore is a curse. This is not uncommon today. We hear people say that they are suffering because of their parents’ sins. Well it is true that we can be victims of our parents’ irrational judgement as in the case of divorced couples or the corrupt decisions of past authorities, but they are not punishment from God: they are consequences of our wrong decisions or an unjust system.

But this is precisely a blindness: we fail to see that much of our suffering is caused by our inability to see and accept the truth. Nagbubulag-bulagan tayo. In psychology, there is what we call selective hearing; there is also a selective seeing: when we would rather see what we want to see and masks whatever we see with denials and with our frame of reference. Take for example our favorite person. Walang mali sa paborito. Hindi natin nakikita na ginagamit at inaabuso na tayo. (There is nothing wrong with our favorite people: we cannot see that we are already being abused.)

This is the same thing with our personal lives. There are many things we keep hidden. Our sins and our dark secrets are not just what we don’t like other people to see. What is deeper than them is the truth that we are responsible and culpable for them: that we willing chose and acted on them. So what we do is to blame other people than ourselves: we attribute it to the culture around us, to our psychological issues, to our ‘moment of weakness’ or to God (Why would God allow this things to happen to me?). Or in cases of death and tragedy: that these things happen and there is no answer to our whys? When we do fail to see the truth --- because they are too painful to bear --- we have a victim mentality. A victim mentality is one where it is always someone else’s fault for bad things happening to you. Or we expect that something bad will happen to us because ‘bad things always happen to me’. A victim always blames others for their cicumstances --- they don’t take responsibility for their action.

But healing begins when there is acceptance of the painful truth. Jesus invites us to always see and keep the truth. That is why we clamour for transparency in the Church and the government. We have to start taking responsibility for every action and circumstance in our life. We are all responsible, not just those who are corrupt: but we who tolerate the system by apathy and non-action. You see, when we seek in every possible way to take responsibility for our action, we would begin to see that this truth: although we cannot control our circumstances, we can always control our response. When we embrace this attitude and behavior towards life: we have been freed to choose how to respond. Those who are not controled by circumstance are those who are healed.

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