As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned;
he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.
To our sensibilities this sounds pretty harsh. This man has suffered a lifetime of blindess just to be an object lesson to his peers? However Jesus is saying something remarkable here. He is breaking the link between disability and sin. In his culture the reason for illness and impairment was to be found in personal, and historical, sinfullness. If you were struck down then it was because you, or your parents had done something wrong. The disciples asking Jesus, “Who sinned”, want to know who is to blame for this man’s affliction. This victim blaming still continues. Jesus wants to say that afflications happen so that God’s work can be revealed. He is not trying to put a positive “spin” on things but rather to demonstrate, through healing this man, that God is loving, forgiving and acting in the lives of the afflicted.