Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind."
God is revealed in our brokenness
In today's Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus whose sin caused a man to be born blind – his own or his parents'. They cannot imagine any other answer to why such disability exists. Jesus does not answer directly but instead implies this situation is an opportunity for God's power to be revealed. Jesus says “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” and he heals the man. Ironically, Jesus is judged by the Pharisees for healing the man on the Sabbath, yet the Pharisees are judged by the Light of the world, whom they don’t recognize.
In life’s greatest difficulties there rarely are answers to “why.” But there are opportunities for love and compassion to give birth to something new and good.
Jasmin Nario-Galace, a professor at the Center for Peace Education at Miriam College in Manila, shared this lesson from the four decades of war in Mindanao, a large island in the southern part of the Philippines. At the heart of the conflict lie deep-rooted prejudices against a minority Muslim and indigenous population – the Bangsamoro people.
“The cost of the war is enormous: 120,000 people dead; economic loss of 20 billion pesos on a daily basis; 982,000 people displaced in the year 2000 alone. The armed conflict has disrupted children’s schooling, caused trauma, insecurity, fear, the loss of livelihood, and in particular, placed multiple burdens on women.
“Women bear the brunt of caring for the family when men are in the battlefield or have died. Women suffer from lack of health and sanitation facilities when in evacuation centers. And they have reportedly suffered from sex and gender-based harassment and violence.
“The peace process is a way to end this war – the cause of so much misery to so many. The nonviolent approach of the process also allows groups that had been historically marginalized – women, Muslims and indigenous peoples – to be consulted. New space has been opened to them.
“The peace process has created a space for the majority of the Filipinos to get to know the indigenous Bangsamoro people, a people whose narrative is almost entirely absent from Philippine history textbooks. It is an opportunity to transform mindsets and dispel stereotypes. It brings hope that soon, people will be leading a life of normalcy and stability.
“The women we consulted as part of the peace process are hopeful that doors will open for them to meaningfully participate in the public space, particularly in political affairs. It gives them and many others a chance to dream.”
Questions for Reflection
When have you felt positively engaged in your community?
How can you welcome others to become similarly engaged?
Lord of Peace, we come to You in our need.
Create in us an awareness of the massive forces of violence and terrorism that threaten our world today.
Grant us a sense of urgency to activate the forces of goodness, of justice, of love and of peace in our communities.
Where there’s armed conflict, let us stretch out our arms to our brothers and sisters.
Where there’s abundance and luxury, let there be simple lifestyle and sharing.
Where there’s poverty and misery, let there be dignified living and constant striving for just structures.
Where there’s selfish ambition, let there be humble service.
Where there’s injustice, let there be humble atonement.
Where there’s despair, let there be hope in the Good News.
Where there are wounds of division, let there be unity and wholeness.
Where there are lies and deceit, let your Truth set us free.
Where there are thoughts of vengeance, let there be healing and forgiveness.
Help us to be committed to the Gospel of peace.
In spite of differences in faith traditions and ethnic roots, teach us Your spirit of mercy and compassion.
For it is only in loving imitation of you, Lord of Peace, that we can discover the healing springs of life that will bring about new birth to our earth a new era of peace and a new harmony among all, forever and ever. Amen.
–“Oratio Imperata for Peace” issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and prayed in all parishes during the month of March 2015, after a massacre on January 25 in Mamasapano, on the island of Mindanao.
Ask your family and friends what breaks their peace and what brings them peace. Think of a way you can make a difference for them.
Work for peace with racial justice in the U.S. Explore the resources offered by the Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Team to dismantle personal and systemic racism.
A Maryknoll Missioner says…
“I first learned of the concept of accompaniment, of “walking with the people,” from the Maryknoll Sisters. This is the ministry to which I am called here in Nicaragua.
“Initially, my walk was with the farmworkers of the state coffee farm of La Fundadora in the mountains of Matagalpa. Then I began to accompany urban women who were developing a service for their pregnant sisters from the countryside. Rural women with high-risk pregnancies needed to give birth in the regional hospital in Matagalpa rather than at home in their communities. So we developed the Casa Materna, or Maternity House.
“The Casa provides food, shelter, medical care, education and transportation to and from the hospital and follow-up for mothers in their home communities. Now, as I walk with the pregnant mothers of the Casa, I still see my main ministry as accompaniment. It’s not so much the ‘doing’ as the ‘being with’ that is important.”
–CATHERINE (KITTY) MADDEN, Maryknoll Affiliates, Nicaragua