Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Jeremiah 25:8-17, Romans 10:1-13, John 9:18-41
After Jesus gave sight to a man who had been blind since birth, the Pharisees didn’t want to believe it happened. They called Jesus a sinner (because only sinners worked on the Sabbath) and claimed no sinner could have performed a miracle. They tried to deny the man had been born blind, but his parents, though too afraid to offer any explanations as to how he could see, testified he had indeed. They mocked and belittled him to try shaming him into recanting his story, but when he stuck to it they drove him out. We don’t like it when the facts undermine our beliefs, so we’ll work very hard to discredit inconvenient truths.
Perhaps we want to believe the world has less bigotry than it does, so when we are confronted by it our first reaction is to derail the conversation by attacking the messenger or the way the message is delivered. Many people will complain about a protest that turns violent or merely “disrespectful” without ever having complained about (or simply considered) the decades of injustices that precipitated it (and persist afterward).
Sometimes we dismiss someone’s story because it makes us uncomfortable: “our pastor wouldn’t do that” or “learn to take a joke” or “that’s just how men are.” We are gullible when we like a story and skeptical when we do not, but we should try to be inquisitive regardless. Countless conflicts and injuries occur and reoccur because we are not willing to face facts we don’t like. Almost daily we can read news items about multiple people who had been silent (or silenced) coming forward to report a crime or injustice when one person is finally brave enough to speak up and another brave enough to listen.
Other people’s stories can be frightening because they contain the power to change our understanding of ourselves and our world. If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, doesn’t that include listening as we’d like to be listened to? Entering a difficult truth is like entering a dark room: it’s only scary until we turn on the Light.
Comfort: When you listen for someone’s truth, you help set them free.
Challenge: Whether you like or dislike a story, its most important element is the truth it contains.
Prayer: Lord of truth and light, teach me to be discerning and fair. Amen.
Discussion: How do you react when you feel like someone isn’t listening to you?
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