Holy Manna: March 23, 2023

Holy Manna: A Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Read: John 9:1-41

The disciples’ question of “who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind” (v. 2) grates on me because people behave similarly when it comes to autism. There are the people who believe that my decision to vaccinate Daniel caused his autism, The study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that linked autism to the MMR vaccine has been disproven multiple times over, and Dr. Wakefield has been stricken from the British Medical Register for committing fraud in the course of that study, so the assertion that Daniel’s autism was caused by being vaccinated is ludicrous. (His autism is most likely linked to a few genetic abnormalities he has that have been also found in other autistic children.)

The bickering over how the blind man regained his sight reminds me of the group of people who seem to think they can “cure” autism with the GAPS diet, ABA therapy, or any number of quack cures. ABA therapy has been helpful for Daniel to a point, but his autism will never “go away”. Just as the Pharisees were skeptical about how the blindman was cured, I doubt anyone could objectively say what a cure for autism would be because the symptoms differ from person to person. It also begs the question of whether we should try to cure a condition that affects someone’s brain the way autism does.

The Pharisees treated the blind man as if he was a mere inconvenience. I experienced one of Jon’s parishes treating Daniel similarly. They wanted me to either exile him to the nursery with a baby monitor or keep him completely silent. It got to the point where I stopped taking Daniel to church because I was sick of people glaring at me. I am glad that St. Paul’s has been different on the occasions when I have brought him, but I was never able to get Daniel used to church. Because of my experiences, I am even more committed to making sure everyone feels welcome at St. Paul’s regardless of ability.

Lord, you chose to heal the blind man, and the Pharisees chose to dispute his healing. Help us to treat people with respect regardless of ability and give us hearts of welcome for everyone who comes through our doors. Amen.
-Jen McCabe