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Friday, 25 February 2022 19:44

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A - 2022

Luke 6:39-45 

“CAN THE BLIND LEAD THE BLIND?”

 

Bill Burt 150One of the mid- 20th century’s most influential people was Helen Keller. Born in the USA on 27th June, 1880, she went blind and deaf as a young child due to an incurable disease. However, by the time she died on 1st June, 1968, she was recognised world-wide. She had overcome her disabilities to become a major humanitarian, a political activist, an educator and a writer, and very importantly an advocate for the blind. She demonstrated that a true hero is one that overcomes life’s struggles by never giving up.

I like to think that if Jesus had gone to the USA last century and had met Helen Keller, he would have phrased the answer to the question we heard in today’s gospel differently!

blind 's feet with stick“Can the blind lead the blind?”

 

Seeing the blind and deaf Helen Keller, speaking so passionately on behalf of disabled people, and acknowledging her incredible leadership qualities which made her such an influence, one could answer this question positively, saying,

“Yes! The blind can lead the blind!” 

Another way of putting Jesus’ question could be, “Can a disabled person lead another disabled person?” And surely the answer to this question is, “Yes!”

Reflecting on this could invite us to re-think how we evaluate disability. Every one of us has handicaps. Some can be major, some can be truly incapacitating, destructive, devastating and humiliating. Some can be minor. But they can also be positive. A person who comes to terms with their handicap can have a profound effect on others who might be weighed-down by their disabilities.

Many years ago, one of our now-deceased SVD priests, John Baron, in his old age found walking without the aid of a stick almost impossible. He was embarrassed by his impediment. On one occasion, when he had retired and was living in Sydney, he was invited to attend an anniversary celebration in Adelaide, where he had served the German community for many years. Eventually, after much urging, he agreed to go, but felt ashamed when he went to the airport. There, though, something special happened: Margaret Whitlam, the wife of former PM Gough Whitlam, boarded the same plane. She was a tall, regal figure, easily recognisable. She walked down the aisle using a walking stick! John saw her, and he said, “If Margaret can walk with a stick, so can I!” And his feelings of shame and embarrassment disappeared. This was a case of “the disabled leading the disabled”.

How we view personal disabilities and deal with them effects powerfully the way our lives evolve. A disability can be debilitating. It can also, though, be a way by which we move forward and contribute to the community in which we live. 

Yes, a person who has disabilities, who is “blind” in some way, can make a positive difference in the lives of others, all of whom are also “blind” in some way. In reality, disabilities are things we just have to live with, but they don’t have to be negative.

Let’s think about this!

Last modified on Saturday, 26 February 2022 16:22