4th Sunday in Lent (April 3, 2011)

I really like Sunday’s Gospel of the man born blind! His sauciness just has me saying, “You rock, dude!!!” I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when he was responding to the questions of his neighbors and the Pharisees, especially the latter. The looks on their faces would have been priceless!

But there’s a universal truth here, too. Living with a handicap is a daily matter, and often consumes a lot of energy. Any deaf person will tell you, for example, that socializing in a large group of loud people is extraordinarily hard work. A blind person is constantly on alert in strange surroundings. One who is lame usually walks face down, on the watch for anything that might trip him or her up. Things that our “normal” brothers and sisters take for granted just aren’t there for us. And it’s not just physical handicaps… There can be money handicaps (poverty), love handicaps (abuse), mental handicaps (depression, autism, OCD), and so on.

I’ve found that people with handicaps (including myself with my deafness) tend to be very upfront and forthright in expressing their thoughts and feelings. We usually don’t have excess energy for games-playing. So when it comes to things like petty complaints, upsets over perceived slights, getting bent outta shape over small things, threats to one’s “authority”, obsession with celebrities, needing to know everything about everyone, and so on, our reaction is pretty much “Get a life, will ya!” Sometimes we speak it aloud, and for sure, our tongues are scarred from biting them so often in order to hold back a comment or two!!! You can see the dynamic perfectly at work in the escalation of the blind man’s responses to the Jewish leaders. In his last appearance before the leadership, he’s obviously fed up with the whole stupid charade.

We’re not heartless and uncaring by any means – in fact, our handicaps can give us a greater compassion for others. But by the same token, it also has a dark side…..I, for example, am often impatient with my CSC brothers who can’t hear well. The fact they refuse to wear hearing aids doesn’t help, but still….they don’t deserve that…I of all people should know what it’s like.

It’s interesting. I had no intention of writing what I did in the above three paragraphs. The original intent was to reflect on the First Reading and Gospel and comment on how we too often can’t see beyond our perceived notions of the way things “should be.” All of us have that particular kind of blindness. But I guess the Spirit was at work and took over my fingers!

Be God’s smile for someone today!!

Herb Yost, CSC

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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