June 6, 2021

Sunday of the Blind Man - The Manifestation of the Works of God

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)  

"Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (Jn. 9:3)

Jesus Christ, passing through the city of Jerusalem, saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him: "Rabbi! Who sinned, he or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus Christ answered: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

Christian listeners! And nowadays there are many people who are in poverty, apparently without any guilt, and when we see these unfortunate people, we often ask: why are they, the poor, suffering? The answer to this question is the same as that which Jesus Christ gave to the apostles: these unfortunate ones suffer so that the works of God may manifest in them; it is they who suffer in order to get rid of great suffering; who live in poverty in order to get rid of great troubles. Yes, listeners, they suffer in body - but they will not suffer in soul; they suffer for some time - but eternally they will be blissful; they do not see the light of the sun - but they will see the unapproachable Light; they do not walk on the earth - but will fly to Heaven; they do not hear the worldly - but they will hear the heavenly; they are silent among people - but they will converse with the Angels.

But you will say: is it possible that the good and wise God cannot manifest His works in any other way? Can't He give people happiness without first subjecting them to cruel punishments? Can't He save a man without first giving him over to torment? Yes, indeed listeners! God, with all His goodness, always and does everything according to the law, in order. A silver vessel, if it is spoiled, covered with rust, how does it recover? They usually break it, put it in the fire, burn it, and then make a new vessel out of it, clean and bright. People in their present state are like a damaged vessel: they are damaged, covered with sinful rust; in order to correct them, to cleanse them, one must first soften the blows of sorrows and lead them through the fire of suffering. For this reason, all the saints suffered: the patriarchs suffered, and the prophets suffered, and the apostles suffered, and all the righteous suffered; that's why the innocent suffer.

After all, how could it be otherwise? People are all sinners, all criminals before God; all are born in sins, all have the seeds of transgression. In order to stifle and suppress these seeds of crimes in a person, it is necessary first to weaken and stop the action of evil forces in him; in order to atone for sins, one must endure for them what follows. This is required by the eternal, immutable law. That is why it is necessary that people be subjected to disasters without visible guilt, and this is how the goodness of God towards people is visible in the blows of justice. The temporary calamities to which the innocent are exposed suppress the seeds of crime in them.

Thus (I repeat what I said before), everyone from birth - blind, deaf, insane, babies dying in torment, in general, everyone - suffer so that the works of God, works of salvation manifest in them. But from among such sufferers it is necessary to exclude those who, in suffering, grumble at Providence; it is equally necessary to exclude those who suffer for their sins, whose sufferings are the result of their arbitrary crimes; however, even these sufferers receive much benefit from their sufferings.

Suffering stops the flow of further crimes, does not allow the fruits of the sinful tree to ripen, and does not allow the cultivation of criminal outgrowths. Someone, perhaps, would have become the greatest villain if his hands had not been taken away; someone else would have gone through the whole world with fire and sword, if he had walked with his legs or saw with his eyes; the other would have led people astray into darkness if his reason had not been damaged. Therefore, the sufferings that people are subjected to for their sins, if they do not completely deliver them from eternal torment, then at least greatly reduce their burden. Thus, there is not a single sufferer in the world who would suffer innocently, in vain; but there is not a single calamity that is not beneficial. In the world, whatever happens from God, everything is for the best. This best comes true sometimes on earth, but most of it is there in Heaven.

So, listeners, if some sorrow befalls us and our neighbors, then instead of vain murmuring let us surrender ourselves to the will of God, remembering that no one here suffers without guilt and without benefit. Amen.