“And who is he sir, that I may believe in him? Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you. He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.” – John 9:36-38
This past Sunday’s gospel reading from John 9:1-41 featured a beautiful and comical account of a man born blind healed by Jesus. The disciples inquired as to whether this man sinned or his parents so as to cause his malady. Jesus corrected their bad theology by saying his infirmity wasn’t divine retribution but divine opportunity for God to be glorified. Jesus then spits on the ground and mixes mud and saliva, which is then smeared on the blind man’s eyes. This action was considered pagan, gross, shocking, and earthy. Yet this is the salve that Jesus uses to open the man’s sight. The story goes on to chronicle how troublesome this was to the religious leaders who thought they clearly saw God’s truth. They excommunicated the healed man because of his testimony. It was only after his excommunication that Jesus formally introduces Himself. Jesus came to give sight to the blind and expose the blindness of those who think they see.
We are born spiritually blind and stumble about trying to find happiness. We are prone to bad theology where infirmities are thought to be God’s punishment for sin. We are religiously sleepwalking. Often our spiritual awakening comes through gross, shocking, and earthy experiences whereby we are jolted by life. Life seems to spit and then rub dirt in our faces, sometimes to the degree that we feel like the mud soaked man in the blog picture! Our spiritually blind egocentric vision for our lives is obstructed so we can then see the truth of God. The cross is a shockingly grotesque, seemingly pagan (child sacrifice?), and earthy way to open our eyes to our condition, God’s beauty, and love for us. We know we see when we can strangely find beauty in such suffering. Mysteriously some of us don’t formally meet Jesus until after getting expelled or excommunicated from the religious tribes who claim to know. As the saying goes, “those who say do not know and those who know do not say.” I am also reminded of a quote from The Little Prince… “Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”