GOSPEL MESSAGE & RECORDING
In the Gospel Reading, taken from John chapter 9, we see that Jesus has an encounter with a blind man in the Jerusalem Temple. It seems that at first it was the disciples who noticed the blind man and asked Jesus why he was born blind, that is, was it due to the sins of his parents or of his own. Jesus answered by saying that he is blind neither because of his sin nor his parents but for the glory of God. At this moment, Jesus took mud from the ground and spit on it, making a sort of mud-paste, anointed the blind man’s eyes and then asked him to go to the pool and wash it out. The blind man was healed.
This Gospel narrative is one of the longer Sunday readings of the Church; and so, due to its length, every detail cannot be mentioned. I would like to, however, focus on why Christ used his saliva and mud to heal the blind man.
Firstly, this is not the first time Jesus healed a blind man. In the Gospel of Mark, the writer records the following: “And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” (Mar 8:23) Here, Jesus spits on the man’s eyes and then lays his hands on him. Note there is no mud. In the Gospel of John chapter 9, Jesus mixes his spit and mud, making a paste. Why Jesus used only used saliva in one account and not the other is unknown. Combining both accounts, the point is that Jesus uses his saliva, a bodily fluid, and mud, an earthly substance to bring forth healing. Why did Jesus do that? He could have simply spoken, as he did for the Roman Centurion’s servant and healing would have occurred. (Luke 7: 1-10) Rather, what Jesus wanted to demonstrate to the people is that he takes creation, human and non-human, sanctifies it, and uses it to bring about the glory of God. In other words, all matter is holy, or rather, is made holy by Christ. Furthermore, it was Christ’s body, which sanctified the wood of the Cross. That which was wood is no longer just wood but holy. It was his blood that spilled on the earth that sanctified the world. In summation, our Lord uses the things of the world to demonstrate the glory of God.
Likewise, you and I, as Orthodox Christians, live in a time and place where saliva is normally associated with something negative, such as, spitting on someone, or the unpleasant smell. Let’s face it, mud is not seen as something that is holy. But as an analogy, in our society today, the human body is not seen as something holy either. Movies, music videos, display the human body in a derogatory manner. Our position as Christians is to change that perspective. We must behave like we are the “temple of God.” As such, leave aside addictions (with the proper help of course), the negative associations (friends), stop the bad habits, etc. and move toward holiness. As Christ took saliva and mud, and allowed the people of his time to see them within a different perspective. So also, we must use our human bodies in a way that is holy so as to show our society and culture the real reason why God created us—to be loving, kind, compassionate, holy, pure, and honest.