2013.6.9 sermon by Fr. Jonah

John 約翰福音 9:1-12

http://www.justin.tv/dao_love/c/2398841

今天的福音是關於耶穌基督行的奇蹟。耶穌在行了奇蹟之後告訴眾人「我是上帝之子」。耶穌遇見一位盲人,他天生下來就沒有眼球。福音中記載了耶穌行奇蹟的詳細過程,在行奇蹟之前,眾人詢問耶穌:「拉比,這人生來是瞎眼的,是誰犯了罪?是這人呢?還是他父母呢?」這個問題確實很發人深省,在此,我想要好好與各位談一談這個問題。

我想,中國人對於這個問題應該很有興趣,因為,許多東方人認為,某人之所以遭遇不幸,是因為前輩子造了罪。這樣的思想似乎是東方文化的普遍認同。有些人天生下來就有殘疾,或是遭遇不幸,生活中也有許多事情讓我們痛苦。我們總是會問:「為什麼會發生這樣的事情?」我想,這是一個簡單的問句,但是,我覺得這個問句不太恰當,我們應該把它改成:「發生這樣的事情,我們應該怎麼做?」人們總是想要得到一個合理的解釋,這樣他們比較容易接受眼前的現實。舉例來說:如果我告訴一個垂死的人他的死亡可以拯救台灣,或許,他就能欣然接受自己的死亡。讓我們想像一下,假設我是上帝,我知道某人的死亡可以拯救台灣,但是,我把這個秘密埋藏在心中,就這樣讓他死亡了。或許人們會問:為什麼?這是一個讓人很難接受的結局。我想,問「為什麼」是一種很自然的文化反應,因為,遭遇不幸的時候,我們總是很難提起勇氣去規劃未來。人們想要獲得一個理由,讓自己更容易接受眼前的狀況。

基於某些哲學上的原因,許多人否認上帝的存在。因為他們認為,如果上帝充滿了愛和權力,就不會讓壞事發生。他們質疑:「為什麼上帝允許惡的事情發生呢?」當然,我們很難用一兩句話來回答這個問題,但是,上帝絕對知曉這一切,祂一定有能力阻止這一切。上帝這樣做一定有祂的理由,今天的福音可以給我們許多啟發。在證道的尾聲,我也會向各位說明這些理由的真正意義。

人們問耶穌:「拉比,這人生來是瞎眼的,是誰犯了罪?是這人呢?還是他父母呢?」耶穌回答:「也不是這人犯了罪,也不是他父母犯了罪,這件事只是要在他身上顯出神的作為。」耶穌覺得,這件事雖然表面看來是不幸,但是這個不幸的事件卻能在世上顯出上帝的光榮。為什麼上帝容許壞人做壞事?如果上帝阻止了一切的惡,那麼上帝就是直接介入了我們的自由意志。上帝不想介入我們的一切,讓我們失去自由決定權。猶大背叛耶穌的時候,耶穌說:「有人要背叛人子。」或許有人會問:「如果猶大沒有出生就好了,為什麼上帝要讓猶大出生呢?」在回答這些問題之前,我想要與大家分享兩個概念。第一、關於魔鬼,我們必須阻止魔鬼的行為。第二、關於上帝無窮的愛,我們應該要讓生命和創造力散發光彩。如果上帝說:「這個人是壞人,我要阻止他的行為,我不要讓他出生。」那麼,就代表了惡魔的力量勝過了上帝的愛。上帝給予我們生命的恩賜,祂總是等待著人們的悔改。

東方人比較不瞭解西方所謂的「自由」。他們常常把上帝想成獨裁專政的統治者,上帝只要一聲令下,大家就要不斷地說「遵命」。上帝的國度不是獨裁的政權,上帝給予我們自由與愛,那並不是獨裁下的自由與愛。許多人問:「為什麼我沒辦法結婚?為什麼沒有人願意娶(嫁給)我?為什麼我的新公司會破產?為什麼我沒有工作?為什麼善良的人也會遭遇這些不幸?」

約伯記向我們闡述了同樣的議題。約伯是一個非常善良的人,他比任何人都善良,然而所有悲慘的事情都發生在他身上。究竟是為什麼?當然,我們無法用簡單的一句話來回答,因為,這並不是數學題目,不是任何理論可以解釋或證明。上帝的示現就是答案。耶穌說:「我就是真理。」真理並不是一句話或是一個理論。上帝來到約伯面前,約伯問上帝為什麼他會遭遇一切不幸,上帝並沒有給他答案,然而,答案已經存在了:那就是上帝就在約伯面前,約伯與上帝面對面。

值得留意的是,今天的福音描述了一個奇蹟,然而,猶太人卻對這個奇蹟視而不見。他們的心思被煩惱包圍,他們不斷地問一些無關緊要的問題:「誰行了這個奇蹟?到底是誰?今天是星期六,應該禁止一切工作。」他們所問的問題,反映出他們已經忘記,我們此時此刻的生命,還有我們整個生命都充滿了奇蹟。舉例來說:我們體內數不清的細胞竟然能夠達到某種平衡,讓我們活著,這真是一個奇蹟。有一天,這些細胞的運作都將停止,我們全都會死亡,這也是一個奇蹟。又舉例來說:我們能夠看到窗外的花朵和鳥兒也是一個奇蹟。而我們能夠去愛與被愛,這也是一個奇蹟。

往往,我們就像是法利賽人一樣,忽略了身邊的奇蹟,而且還問一些無關緊要的問題:「那是在什麼情況下發生的?它是好是壞?是過去生造成了這一切嗎?」當我們的生活遭遇困頓時,我們應該衷心期待耶穌的降臨。這一刻並不是生命的終點,而是惡的終點。耶穌基督第二次來臨時,歷史將會停止,而一切惡也會消失。因此,現在的我們應該明白,無論遇到任何困難,耶穌基督都在我們身邊。與其從過去生找答案,不如聽從耶穌的話語:「你相信人子嗎?」「人子」的意義是愛。我們應該常常自問:「值得相信的那位人子是誰?」這樣,人子就會顯現他自己。他將帶我們遠離盲目,我們會發現祂。這就是一切的答案。

值得留意的是,我們總是問:「為什麼不幸的事情發生在我身上?」卻從來不問:「為什麼幸福的事情發生在我身上?」今天閱讀的書信是腓力比書,書信中描述了一位被魔鬼附身的女僕,她被附魔之後能夠預言未來的事情。保羅來到此地,站在她的面前,她向眾人說:「這些人教導我們真正的上帝。」然而,保羅阻止了她的言論還為她驅魔。

讓我們省思一下這篇書信的內容,魔鬼也能說出真理嗎?首先,是的,有時候魔鬼也能說出真理,但是,他們所說的並不是完整的真理。許多人宣稱自己相信耶穌基督,然而,魔鬼比我們任何一個人都信耶穌。那不是真正的信仰,因為,對魔鬼而言,上帝是至高無上的強權,上帝讓魔鬼非常懼怕。但是,上帝對我們而言,是愛、是自由,而不是強權。因此,是的,有時候惡魔會說出真理,然而,惡魔常常說些似是而非的話,把我們耍得團團轉。

我們不應該把任何心思放在惡魔的教導上面,無論你覺得他說的是對還是錯。如果不是保羅睿智的決定,眾人可能還會說:「看吧,這個先知(魔鬼)相信耶穌基督。」身為基督徒,我們絕對不能利用魔鬼來傳福音或宣揚耶穌基督。我們不該利用「驅魔」的儀式來博取大家對耶穌基督的信任。也不該請那些被魔鬼附身的人說宣揚上帝的話,例如:「上帝是真理。」原因是:第一、魔鬼接下來會找機會利用小事興風作浪,欺騙所有人。第二、耶穌教導我們上帝的愛。上帝是聖三位一體,是愛,而不是一種讓我們害怕的強權。如果人們是因為害怕魔鬼而相信上帝,或者,他們因為看見一些新奇的事而相信上帝,這樣的信仰不會持久,或許幾年之後,他們就會離開教會。讓人驚訝的是,人們往往都會選擇權力,而不會選擇愛。他們說:「如果耶穌基督能夠行一個奇蹟,我就相信他。」

然而,上帝只允許我行一種奇蹟:就是將麵包和酒轉化為耶穌基督的聖體和聖血。這樣的奇蹟,展現出耶穌基督圓滿的愛。祂藉此進入我們體內,祂是如此謙卑。這就是教會行的奇蹟。我們應該特別留意,上帝並不是法律條文,上帝也不是至高的強權。上帝是愛,祂以愛的形式進入我們每個人的生命之中。祂一直在等待我們接受這份愛。願聖三守護我們每一位。

 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” So he went and washed, and came back seeing.  Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”  Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.”  He said, “I am he.”  10 Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”  11 He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”  12 Then they said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.”

Today the Gospel is again about a miracle of Jesus Christ, and after this miracle Jesus said, “I am the Son of God.” The person in the miracle was blind because had been born without eyeballs. In the Gospel the miracle is described, but today I would like to say a few things about the question of the people who were present then, because they asked Jesus, “Who committed the sin, this person or his parents, so that he was born without eyes?” 

        Today I wanted to talk about this because especially Chinese people ask about this, and actually all the Eastern peoples have found an easy explanation, that if somebody has a problem it’s because that person committed a sin in the past life – all these things we know from Eastern cultures. Of course there is suffering that people are born with and other things that are making us suffer. And because we are logically oriented people, the question is, “Why?” From one point of view this is an easy question, but I might say not such a proper question. The proper question should be, not why this happened, but what to do. But human beings have a tendency that if they can have a reason explained to them, they can more easily accept a situation. For example, some of you could very easily accept dying if I said that by dying you could save Taiwan. But if I didn’t say this, keeping it as my secret – and I am God – and I allow you to die, you would ask, why, and in that case it would be very difficult to accept. So, many people ask for the reason because it is a cultural thing. Because it is hard to think about the future and so they want a reason so it is easier to passively accept the present situation.

        Of course, in philosophy, many people decide not to believe in God for the reason that I will explain now. Because they say that if God is full of love and full of power, He would not allow bad things to happen. And they ask, “Why does He allow evil things to happen?” Of course the answer is not easy, but it is not that God does not know what is going on or that God does not have the power to stop it. The Gospel for today gives us another reason, and there are many other reasons. And finally, at the end I will say what the reason means.

        For this person, Jesus said his blindness did not happen because of some sin, but it happened so that the miracle, the presence of God would be revealed. From this point of view it is a completely different idea from the way people in the East think. It is not because of reincarnation, but now a bad thing becomes an event so that the glory of God could be revealed in the world. When we ask ourselves, why does God allow bad people to do bad things, we should take the question a little bit further and ask, “Why does God allow me to do bad things, and He does not stop me?” Because if we ask God to stop the evil, God would also stop me from doing bad things, and then I would say that this is a threat to my freedom. If God does not allow me from doing whatever I want then I am not free. You know, when Judas betrayed Jesus, Jesus said “Somebody will betray the Son of Man. And it would be better this that this person were not have been born.” So somebody could ask Him, “So why did You allow him to be born?” You see, now there are two concepts here. One is the evil, and the necessity to stop the evil. And the other is the infinite Love of God, to allow life and creativity to shine and be glorious. In that case, if God were to say, “This person will be bad, and I will stop him, I will not allow him to be born;” then the necessity and the evil power wins and the Love of God loses. God gives the gift of life and He is always waiting for the repentance of that person.

        Eastern people don’t understand this kind of freedom. They want a kind of dictatorship, where God will be the ultimate dictator, telling you that you will do this and not do that; and you will say, “Yes, yes, yes.” But the kingdom of God is not a dictatorship, and this freedom and love are not the same thing as that. Many people ask, “why am I not married? Why does nobody want me? Why did the new business I started go bankrupt and I cannot work?” “Why are there are so many bad things that happen to good people?”

        The same question was in the Book of Job, when Job was a such good person, the best, and all the bad things happened to him. What is the answer. The answer is not a single sentence. The answer is not an intellectual theory. The answer is the presence of God. As Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” And the truth is not a sentence or a theory as we expect it. But when God came to Job and Job asked Him, He did not give an answer, but the answer was right there: Job was face-to face in the presence of God.

        It is very important to understand one thing. We see in the Gospel today that there was a miracle and the Jews refused to see the miracle. They were thinking about so many things: Who did this? Who did that? It was Saturday and work was not allowed. All these things had nothing to do with the miracle. Asking why in this way is forgetting that we in our life, at this moment, and all of our life, is a miracle. It is a miracle, for example, that so many millions and billions of cells in my body are in stability and I live. One day this will stop and I will die. It is a miracle that we see the birds, that we see the flowers outside. It is a miracle that we can love and that we can be loved.

        Many times we are like the Pharisees and forget the miracle and say, “Well under which conditions did this happen? Is this good or is this bad? Is this because of a previous life?” So when we see that something bad is happening in our life, expect that here Jesus is present. Because this is not the end of life, where the evil will stop. The evil will stop when history stops with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. So during this period now, we should understand that in any difficulty, Jesus is there. And instead of searching in previous lives for reasons why something bad happened, we should listen to what Jesus day, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Because this is the meaning of love: the Son of Man. And when we will say to Him, “Who is this person to believe?” He will reveal himself. He will take us out of the blindness that we have. And when he does this, we will see Him. And this is the reason And this is everything.

        And there is something else. Many times we ask why bad things are happening to me, and don’t ask why good things are happening to me? (This is very important and let’s pay attention for a little longer.) In the Epistle today, it was from the Philippians, there was woman, a slave who was possessed by a demon who could make prophesies. When Paul went there, she told the truth, she said, “These people (Paul in front of her), they preach the real God.” But Paul stopped her and he cast out the devil. Now, we have here the question, can the demons say the truth?

        First of all, yes, sometimes the demons say the truth – but not the whole truth. As I’ve said many times, because some people will say that they believe in Jesus Christ, but the demons believe even more than many of us. But this is not the real faith, because the demons know God as power and they are afraid of Him, but we know God as love, as freedom, not as power. So, yes sometimes the demons may say the truth; but in the truth there is also something that will throw us off.

        And the other thing is that we should never pay attention to the teachings or the sayings of the devil, no matter if what he says is the truth or false. If it had been someone else instead of Paul, that person might have said, “See, this prophet – he would say this demon – says believe in Jesus Christ.” As Christians we should never, ever use the devil for missions or to proclaim Jesus Christ, or to us an exorcism or other things of demon-possessed people to say, “You see, God is Truth.” First of all, because later on the demon will gradually use a small thing that will gradually become a big thing to cheat the people. And second, because the Jesus that we preach is the love of God. We preach the Holy Trinity, God as Love, not as power. If people believe in God because they are afraid of devils or because they see something very astonishing that touches their heart, then gradually after a few years they may leave the Church. It is amazing how people need power and they don’t prefer love. They say, “Make a miracle now and I will believe in Jesus Christ.”

        But God does not allow me – and not simply because of my sins – to make any miracle except for one – to make the bread and the wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ: such a humble miracle and so full of love because He enters all of you. It is so humble, this miracle we do here in the church. So I say once more, be careful, it is not the regulations, it is not the power. It is God, who is present in our lives as love, and He is waiting for us to accept this love.

        May the Holy Trinity protect all of us. Amen