Pro IQRA News Updates.
It’s good to be on the winning side. I felt that recently, when my football team, Manchester United, beat Newcastle to claim the Carabao Cup – their first piece since 2017. (Since then they haven’t performed as well). Inspiration is not just on the football field but off it through his campaigns for underprivileged children in the UK. He attributes this act to his Christian faith: “Our faith in God is shown to us by people. For me and my family, this is certainly the case.”
I imagine I will not be alone in hoping to be on the winning side again in today’s rugby match between Ireland and England. However, we can’t always be winners, something author Neville Ward was well aware of when he wrote: “Failure is as much a part of life as success is, and by no means something to sit in front of and howl as if it were a scandal and a shame.”
Tomorrow’s reading from 1 Samuel tells us how David became the leader of his people. He went on to capture Jerusalem around 1000 BC – an event with consequences to this day. But Reading also records the failure of Saul, his predecessor, the first king of Israel and is described as “a man of personal courage… generous to his opponents.” On the day David won, Saul was the loser.
The gospel reading introduces another loser, a blind man who lives in poverty and depends on charity for survival. His disability is judged to be the result of sin and thus grounds for exclusion according to those who thought they knew better. (The roles of mother and child come to mind.) This poor man, crippled from birth, is doomed, until he meets Jesus.
This is not just a story about one man’s blindness but about society and what it chooses to see and not see. Some scholars say that the Greek translation “man born blind” can also mean “humankind, blind from birth.” The people who judged the man had not seen him, though they passed by him regularly. This is a disturbing message for anyone who travels the streets of our towns and cities, streets populated by so many “losers”, unwanted and therefore invisible. Jesus left us no doubt regarding his position: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” The Christian gospel is a charter for the rights of the losers of this world.
Human weakness is the raw material of God’s restorative work, but modern society, obsessed with appearances, is uncomfortable with suggestions of personal weakness or loss, and any of us may need help or healing. St. Patrick, whom we honored yesterday, had no such difficulties: “I am Patrick, a sinner, uncultivated, the least of all faithful and despised in the eyes of many.” To some extent, we all live in a false world of success and achievement even though there may be memories of failures and losses, or things we said or did that we wish we hadn’t said or done. An old saying reminds us that “denial is no river in Egypt.” It is a negative force that can saddle any of us with guilt and remorse because we have lost or were losers at some point in our lives but find it difficult to acknowledge it.
But Father Richard Rohr offers such reassurance: “The great thing about God’s love is that it is not defined by object. God does not love us because we are good. God loves us because God is good.” Something to hold on to.