|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journey of Faith is a Process
After the 4-year-old’s mother replied, “No!” on the third occasion to something the little girl wanted, the 4-year-old stomped in front of her mother and said, “I hate you! I hate you!” She stormed off to her bedroom. Ten minutes later, she was back playing and talking with her Mom again. None of us would take those words seriously from a 4-year-old; we understand that the child is just having a tantrum.
However, if a 40-year-old woman went to her mother saying, “I hate you! I hate you!” it would mean something very different. When we are children, we do not understand the weight of our words. The word “hate” is a very harsh word–even just repeating it, as the child had, sounds so harsh. The child does not really understand what he or she is saying.
When we enter our teenage years, our adult years, and then our mature adult years, we learn how things work. We become much more aware; we see things differently with more awareness; we are much more conscious of the power of words to do damage, the power of words to heal or to hurt.
In today’s Gospel, we hear of a man who was born blind but who receives his sight, not because he has asked for it, but because of the goodness of God. John’s Gospel does not require faith for miracles or “signs,” as they are called in John’s Gospel, to work.
Unlike in the Synoptic Gospels, which require faith before a miracle can work, in John’s Gospel, Jesus typically works with somebody who does not have faith. In John’s Gospel, faith comes after the sign, as it does in today’s Gospel.
The man is born blind – and while Jesus and his disciples walk by, the disciples ask Jesus, “Why is he blind? Is it because of the sins of his parents or his sins?” Jesus says, “Neither.” He goes over and puts a little spittle on the ground and heals him. The healed man slowly comes to faith as he is forced to answer the questions of the Jews. He then comes to a deeper faith by his own questioning, by his own searching for answers. How was he healed?
Often times, we come to see our faith differently as we experience life, but we must enter into the questioning. We must find a way to ask the questions because asking is what brings us to a deeper faith; we reach more mature and richer levels each time we ask questions. It is the journey we must go through; it is what the blind man does. He receives grace, and he builds upon that grace by cooperating and asking questions. Then he comes to an even deeper faith.
May we not settle ourselves with a faith that we learned at 10 or 12 years old. We need to continue to ask questions about our faith because our eyes become open as time passes. As we begin to see more, then we take more steps and we do more things. It is only with faith opened by eyes of faith that we come to the full realization of what we are called to do in faith for one another as a community.