John 9:4-5 NRSV
We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
We live in conflicted, complicated, sometimes frighteningly angry times – and so, of course, did Jesus and his disciples. We sometimes forget that context when we tell the familiar stories by and about Jesus, but it’s hard to ignore the tension surrounding the present story. Not only does Jesus make explicit reference to the shortness of his time on earth, but the story is framed by references to people forced to flee angry crowds: just prior to his encounter with the blind man, Jesus hides and then flees from the temple under threat of stoning (John 8:59), and the man born blind himself, who did nothing to initiate his encounters with Jesus or the Pharisees, is “driven out” by the latter group when they don’t like his answers to their questions (John 9:34).
So amid all this conflict, what does Jesus do, and urge his followers to do? He does the work he was sent to do: teaching about God and the kingdom; healing the sick, the lame, and the blind. And when he finishes, others are better off: not only has the blind man served as an illustration for Jesus’ teaching, as Jesus says he was born to do, but he now has sight, and is able to participate more fully in the life of his community. Jesus works, and his work brings hope.
In the psalm for today (Psalm 43:5), the speaker, similarly beset by enemies, also relies on God, and on hope. With him, we pray:
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
My help and my God.