“If you were blind there would be no sin in that. ‘But we see,’ you say, and your sin remains.”
I remember the first time I saw a blind beggar. It was along the main street of Nakururu in Kenya. The man was sitting on a board that had rollers on it. He had no legs and his hands were wrapped in dirty rags. I suppose he had leprosy. To get around he would push with his arms and the roller board would scrape down the sidewalk, like a broken toy skateboard. Mostly he just sat and waited for the clink of a coin in his cup. He sat there day after day. He saw no one and no one saw him. After a while you stop seeing the blind beggar. You become blind to his needs; to his existence.
I saw him that first day and then again each time I would pass by after that. But a little less every day. The first day I stopped and dropped a few shillings in his cup and shared a prayer with him. The second day I whispered a prayer as I went by. The third day I extended my hand toward him in blessing. The fourth day I thought of him. After that I never saw him again.
I wish the story was different. I wish he would have risen up – walking and leaping and praising God the first time I had prayed. I wish I would have had enough money so that he never would have had to sit on that street again. But it wasn’t that way. Unless he has died, he is still sitting along the main street of Nakururu.
It is hard to see the poor, the sick, the oppressed. It is hard because they tell us how powerless, how lacking we really are. But we must keep our eyes open. We must see them. We must drop even one coin in a cup. We must say even one prayer. We must offer even one kind word. If we do not, it is we who become blind and crippled.
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Sm. 16:1-13, Eph. 5:8-14, Jn. 9:1-41
Peace Connections: Making the connection between the Sunday Readings and issues of peace and justice. Copyright 1995, by Thomas L. Garlitz. “Not for profit” permission to reprint granted.