Like most people with a serious illness, I wish I could be healed. I’ve prayed for it, hoped for it and essentially given up on it. I look to America and they are at least trying to do something for those of us with these horrible and incurable diseases; but I am more than a little aware of the “not in my lifetime” element to this.
The Gospels are full of stories of how Jesus heals people. This Sunday’s reading from John was about how Jesus healed the man who had been born blind. It’s an interesting story on all sorts of levels. But the bit that interests me is the bit the blind man himself had to do. First of all he did not ask for healing – not here at this point anyway. He has been blind all his life. He has probably got used to it and had to accept the begging and appallingly poor life because of it. Has he accepted that so many people, the apostles included, assume that he or his parents are somehow at fault. “Who sinned, him or his parents?” How often had that question been asked, or used as an excuse to withhold the love and charity he should have received?
Jesus doesn’t say, “Open your eyes.” He does something really weird. He spits on the ground and makes a paste. Then he goes and daubs the spit-mud on the mans eyes. The man doesn’t protest. Perhaps he is more than used to having spit and earth thrown at him, being less useful and of less worth to those who lived their able lives. Now this man touches him with gentleness on his blind eyes.
“Go and wash in the pool of Siloam,” says Jesus and the man immediately obeys. Someone must have led him there. He does not question, but goes where he is sent. And because he has obeyed his sight is restored.
Like Naaman in the river he is healed. Like all those people healed at the waters of Lourdes, he is healed.
But so many of us, are not healed. We carry our sickness and remain unable to walk or do all that we wish we could do. And there is a reason for that. Not that we have sinned (though we have) or that our parents have sinned (though they have) – but we are a sign of contradiction in our utilitarian culture.
A mother of a child with Downs wrote this very moving piece about her feelings over the death of Terri Schiavo in 2005. What she writes resonates with me. I wondered how long before it’s my turn or my child’s turn because we are not “useful” enough? (H/T The Anchoress). Far too many medics and nurses think respect is only to be given to those who will either get better quickly or die when the medics want them to. Those who remain ill or wont die fast enough had better beware.
It is the fashion to blame the sick for being sick. This insidious approach is just so that doctors can wash their hands of us. Baring in mind how skint the NHS is supposed to be, I was quite cross when a pile of NHS junk mail aimed at people like me with hypertension, heart problems and stroke came through my door. The glossy booklet and leaflet was a massive “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!” attack. We are all smoking and drinking too much, eating high fat, high salt diets and being too idle to exercise. Oh, and we have a lot of stress which we can simply “reduce.” Those of us who don’t tick the “blame patient” boxes, are simply assumed to be at fault.
All this is simply to let people off the hook of actually caring for the sick. They are a “burden” and no one should be a burden so we have a duty to die.
Jesus said the man was born blind so that God could be glorified. Those of us who live daily with our limitations, pain and sickness must remember – this is to be offered for the glory of God. That alone, makes us still useful, don‘t you think?
I have to put this cartoon in.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist.