I pulled into the parking space just as the red pickup truck next to me turned sharply, clipping the neighboring car so hard it rocked on its wheels.
The pickup idled. Behind the spattered windows rolled up tight, a man and a woman looked down at the scraped Ford. There was discussion. Mouths moved behind the closed windows. They looked, talked some more, laughed. And then drove slowly away.
I ran across the parking lot and into SuperSaver. Tossing my purse onto crates of tomato juice, I wrote a note and the license plate number on the back of a used envelope. And then I hurried back outside to place it on the damaged car’s windshield.
I was pleased with myself. They deserved it, that couple. They’d done something wrong and had even had the gall to laugh about it. They’d looked like the type who would do such a thing: unkempt, rough around the edges. Justice needed to be served, and I was the one to do it.
Halfway across the parking lot, note in hand, I stopped. The woman who had sat in the pickup truck now stood in front of the little blue Ford, hands thrust deep in the pockets of her ragged jacket. She surveyed the front bumper and then turned and sauntered toward the grocery store. One row away the man waited in the passenger seat of the red pickup.
I stalled a few seconds before following the woman back into the grocery store. In the produce section I plucked six oranges from the pyramid. I pushed my cart toward the onions, checked my list.
“May I have your attention please,” the announcer garbled over the store intercom. I paused. “Will the owner of a dark blue Ford, license plate OGI 782, please come to the customer service counter at the front of the store. The owner of a blue Ford, license plate OGI 782, please come to customer service. Thank you.”
Although this incident happened more than two years ago, I still think about it a lot, and I was reminded of it again when I read this week’s lesson about the blind man.
“I entered this world to render judgment,” Jesus told the blind man after he had healed him “– to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”
Jesus was talking about the know-it-all Pharisees, of course, who just moments earlier had chastised the healed man, a sinner, for daring to contradict them, for daring to teach them.
As much as I hate to admit it, I know Jesus is talking to the know-it-all me in this story, too. That day in the SuperSaver parking lot (and many other days since then) I was the worst kind of Pharisee. I was confident I had it all figured out. Those people – the ones who looked a little unkempt, the ones who were different than me, dare I say less-than me – they had needed to be judged, and I had appointed myself to do it.
What I didn’t realize until almost too late was that I’d judged wrong; I’d been blind. I’d only thought I could see. And those people? The ones I’d deemed the sinners? The ones I’d considered less-than?
They taught me.
Questions for Reflection:
Have you ever wrongly judged someone? Have you ever considered that it might be you that Jesus is talking to in this story, or do you always assume it’s someone else?
Part of this post originally ran as a guest post two years ago at Emily Wierenga’s place.
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