"Isn't This the One Who Used to Sit and Beg?"
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, "Go wash in the Pool of Siloam" — which means Sent. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, "Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, "It is, "but others said, "No, he just looks like him.” He said, "I am."
Few years ago, I met John Poppe who was invited to give a presentation at the Diocesan Youth Conference in Collinsville, IL. John was from Breeze Illinois. This incredible and talented young man was born without arms and legs. Yes, that’s right. No arms, no legs. John, in his book titled, “What’s your excuse?” wrote; “as I travel across the nation and in other countries, I found that most people don’t know how to respond to a person with physical deformities or physical limitations.” He continues, “as Americans, we still aren’t even sure what to call a person who has deformities. We’ve gone from using the word crippled to handicapped to disabled to physically challenged, and, for the most part, we aren’t comfortable with any of these terms.” You can choose not to be preoccupied with labels. You can choose not to be preoccupied with what name people may call you or how people react or respond when they see you.
What may be true in the physical sense is certainly not true in the psychological, mental, spiritual, or emotional arenas, which are the far more important realms of human existence. Every one of us faces the challenge of discovering the unusual, potentially limiting conditions of our lives, and then learning how to stop those conditions from disabling us.
In today’s gospel, the blind man encountered Jesus and his story changed. The man’s neighbors said, "Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?” The Lord can use you to pull a surprise. Sometimes, when something changes in your life people are often surprised. And they will wonder, isn’t this the one who used to be this or that . . . as they make reference to your past.
You may not have any physical condition, but there could exist other conditions capable of disabling you or blocking your vision in life. Sometimes, the reason you are sad is that you looked to yourself and not to God; to your failing, not to his love; to your weakness, not to his strength. Jesus can change your story. The Lord can lift you up. The Lord will restore you.
O Lord, bring us safely home on the shoulders of your love. Keep us from wandering off to places where it is difficult for you to find us. Amen.