Gospel John 9:1-41

“Tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.”

The miracles of Jesus can seem far removed from our own experience. In the midst of our own sufferings we can be impatient at God’s apparent inactivity, or even hopeless that He would even seek to intervene to make our situation any better. As such, when we read these stories we are often tempted to gloss over the reality contained within.

There is much here that gives one pause – Jesus’ actions are particularly odd. He spits on the floor and makes a paste out of his spit and the dirt, and then smooshes it onto that blind blokes’s face. These are not regular, commonplace activities. This is decidedly out of the ordinary.

The Pharisees in the story, we are told, are so concerned with the fact that Jesus did this work of healing on the Sabbath that they miss the oddity of these bizarre and wonderful things that are before them. For them, the law has become an ideology, which – like all ideology, prevents them from being open to reality as it is.

This is not the case for the formerly blind man, who instead, because of his encounter with Jesus, is much more open to the reality of the mysterious things that have happened to him.

It is in fact, incredibly difficult to identify and root out the ideologies that we are subject to. Consequently, we are not free – like this formerly blind man – to accept reality when we are confronted with it. Reality can seem hostile, lonely, cold, and unfeeling. But is this really the case?

In our late-modern world, for example, we have succumbed to ideologies which have done away with any sense of the mysterious, replacing it with notions of chance, fluke, randomness, or chaos. We have fallen prey to a particular scientism that reduces things to merely what they are made of, or what we can do with them. In this disenchanted existence, we are unable to even conceive of the ‘Son of Man’, and so, unlike this formerly blind beggar, are unable to even ask to be told who he is, so that we may believe in him.

Our prayer then can be to ask God to liberate us from the ideologies that blind us and prevent us from seeing him, whatever they may be. Let us pray that we would allow the uncomfortable spitty mud of Christ to smoosh over our eyes, so that our sight would be restored, so that we too can believe and worship him.

Point to Ponder

‘We are up against mystery. To call this mystery “randomness” or “chance” or a “fluke” is to take charge of it on behalf of those who do not respect pattern. To call the unknown “random” is to plant the flag by which to colonize and exploit the known.’

– Wendell Berry, ‘Letter to Wes Jackson’, in Home Economics (1992).