Psalm: 119:73-96
Gospel: John 5:1-18
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Against the Heresies by St. Iranaeus

So apologies on such a late post. I totally admit to getting sucked into a Grapefruit League matchup on TV. Regular season starts in 7 days. Whoo hoo! πŸ˜€

But anyways onto the readings……one line stuck out for me tonight that was somewhat troubling. Once the lame man sees Jesus in the Temple, Christ says to him:

Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you. (John 5:14)

What does Jesus mean here??? Does he mean that there is a logical connection between sin and physical ailments?

As a disabled individual, I will say that I clearly reject this idea. When I was writing my term paper for Church History last year, I looked at various Biblical frameworks for the theology surrounding disability….Suffice it to say none of them are good. 😦

Biblically speaking, there are two basic options which are presented for understanding why people have disabilities:

1) It is a physical manifestation of sin, and of God’s punishment on the community/family for their wrongdoing (Old Testament) or
2) People are born with disability, it is so that God’s glory might be displayed through them.

Both worldviews suck :P…..mostly because they depict disability itself as a type of righteous suffering . Boo! 😦

I think it would be absurd for me to say that Jesus meant something different than the righteous suffering model. It makes sense…and it is the framework He himself would’ve been familiar with. I don’t want to betray the text too badly.

I will say that there are other ways to understand the concept of disability without seeing it as a punishment, and I might do a later post on my own theology of disability at some later date…but I want to take this reflection in a slightly different direction.

I think Jesus’ words in this Fourth Gospel play a dual purpose. On the one hand, he is addressing the natural consequences of sin that I wrote about this morning. Jesus doesn’t want the lame man to sin because he doesn’t want anyone to sin. The exhortation to turn aside from our old ways is a constant theme of the Gospel…directed to the disabled community and able-bodied communities alike.

Also…..the author of John was acutely aware of persecution within the synagogue on the followers of the Christian movement. His advice to his newly-healed follower is to behave righteously so that the man does not get in trouble with the authorities, and find himself ostracized from the people. It is a piece of practical advice as much as it is a moral imperative that is being given here.

Conscious sinning (that is, with full knowledge that it is wrong) alienates us from the world, from God, and even from ourselves. During this Lent, may we be given clear minds to see where we have missed the mark nand to have a firm resolve to take steps back on the Way that leads to wholeness and life. +