I wonder if the glass-clinking toast "here's mud in your eye" has its derivation in today's Gospel selection. (This is something I could have looked up prior to writing this morning, but that is not really the purpose of these reflections.) Today's reading from John can be a rather frustrating one, if we only look at it through a literal-minded lens. Frustrating because it raises uncomfortable questions.
We hear that this individual was born blind for the sole purpose that Jesus could heal him in front of the disciples and the people in his town. That does not sound fair at all, does it? That doesn't sound like the God who loves us, individually, as we were created. That sounds like an uncaring God who tramples on and is hurtful to individual lives so as to prove a point. We know that not to be true.
We also hear in this Gospel account that Jesus made a paste of mud and spread that mixture onto this individual's eyes and then told the blind individual to walk to the pool of Siloam to wash the mud paste away. If this individual was blind, with mud encased eyes, how'd he find the pool? This blind individual then recounts numerous times about the mud paste placed on blind eyes and the instruction and action of washing away the mud (and the blindness).
What are we to take away from this healing story of Jesus and the individual blind from birth, cured by mud and self-washing? This self-washing where this individual: received sight, was made to see, eyes made to open. There is an involvement by the person that is critical to the successfulness of this healing story: the self-washing. Perhaps part of what we are to take away from this healing story is that Jesus can only do so much to heal us, restore our sight, allow us to have opened eyes. Each of us, individually, has to figure out how to wash away that which obscures our sight and allow in the light of Christ. Is that blindness from birth a learned prejudice? Is that blindness from birth a callousness to the need of others that surround us on every side? Is that blindness from birth a narrow-mindedness to the wideness of God's love?
Perhaps we are challenged today to allow the words of Jesus be that mud-paste on our eyes which we can use to wash away our own blindness. Something challenging to consider this Monday of the 5th week of Lent.
Here's to mud in your eyes.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: The Happy 90s, jfd+, 2011.