“Who sinned- this man or his parents?”
This passage from the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John seems an appropriate text for these days, when some may wonder what we’ve done as a nation to deserve this coronavirus outbreak.
First we need to remember that the rest of the world is being affected by this, too. It’s not always about U.S. And second, this isn’t about nations being victims of some sort of divine punishment. No doubt, there is cause and effect in play here, but only as the virus at some point jumped from animal to human and then human to human. Our interconnectedness has taken care of the rest. The virus is just doing what a virus does– thriving in the midst of humans who are in close proximity to one another.
A certainly cold and cruel explanation is that this is nature’s way of “thinning the herd,” but it is a much more troubling jump to assign blame to God, as if covid-19 is just the latest divine judgment passed on a rebellious and sinful humanity.
An important detail of this text is that Jesus doesn’t “go there.” Instead of confirming a connection between one’s sinfulness and the circumstances of one’s life, he treats the man’s blindness as an opportunity to heal- to change the course of his life and open doors to a new day.
It is a grace-filled moment. Judgement and punishment are nowhere to be found.