We all are very aware that sight is such a gift at the heart of our human bodies. It allows us to see the world we encounter each day in all of its beauty and in all of its ugliness. The beauty is of God. Any ugliness we see is a result of our choices.
For example, the beauty of nature is the work of God’s hand. There’s a naturalness to such present beauty that has developed and formed over millions of years, and we happen to be living at a time when what we see has been formed for many millennia. What we see today, any human being alive, say, just a short 100,000 years ago, would not have seen the same beauty we see.
But in the midst of nature and all its natural wonders, we may also see, as we walk along nature’s path, things like litter and trash strewn along the side of a scenic country road. Beer cans; losing lottery tickets tossed aside from the frustration of giving the state money for a piece of paper with much anticipation of winning but little hope of actually winning; fast food bags (eat quick and toss it just as quickly); soda bottles and cans, just to name a few items of many. Such ugliness spread throughout the midst of the beauty of nature is man’s doing. Where there is no regard, no respect, no appreciation, and no sense of what others will have to look at as a result of the callousness of an individual, a couple, or a group.
The beauty belongs to God. The lessening and watering down of God’s beauty belongs to us. Which would we rather see? Which would most of us prefer to look upon? I would assume that most people prefer to look upon the work of God’s hand, rather than some of the things that people can do to tarnish the beauty of God’s handiwork.
But, God also does some altering to the beauty of his creation. Because sometimes the beauty of his creation is not all that it can physically be. The point person in human history for such altering is the blind man in John’s Gospel. He is not all that he can physically be. So Jesus, who, while he is in the world is the light of the world, has this divine justice rolling around inside of him that basically says, “I can’t stand the fact that this man is blind; that he was born blind; and that he has remained blind into his adult years. This cannot be in my presence!”
Jesus has the hardest of times witnessing a part of his creation that has not been fulfilled in this man, namely, his inability to physically see. This drives Jesus nuts, in the best of ways. Just like litter drives someone nuts as they walk a scenic country road, or a trail in nature. There’s blindness present in the presence of litter. There’s a certain taking away of God’s creation. Just like physical blindness.
So, Jesus does something about it. This is what’s so wonderful about our Lord. When presented with a situation that calls for his undivided attention, he never turns his back on us. Do we trust this in our lives? So Jesus, in his way of being unique, spits on the ground, makes clay with his saliva, and rubs the same clay from which this blind man was formed – along with all of us – and rubs it into his eyes. That must have hurt initially!
The combination of God’s saliva and the clay of the earth makes the blind man physically whole. This makes for a good prayer; pray in your need for God’s saliva to touch the parts of your lives that fall short. Petition God to spit on that addiction. Ask God to spit on your doubt. Ask God to spit on our lack of faith and trust in his ways. It makes for a good prayer.
Back to the blind man. The blind man is given the gifts of sight and light because Jesus was physically in the world. That’s not to say that miraculous events have ceased since our Lord ascended into heaven. They still occur. Jesus is still spitting his saliva into peoples’ lives to perform miracles. Our issue is we don’t fully understand why some are cured and others are not. But God’s saliva is definitely drenching our world, thanks be to God!
The sight given to the man born blind was not an action that sits on its own. It was not an end in itself. It’s not like Jesus cured him and then said to the guy, “Have a nice life.” It was an act of love that invites every one of us into the light that awaits all people of faith. Physical light dies. The light of Christ knows no death. If Jesus cured the man born blind and never came back to pick up the rest of the litter that was strewn along the road of his life, and of our lives, then having the gift of physical sight would be meaningless in the end. The heavier litter is the spiritual litter. Curing the lack of sight in one blind man is not an end in itself. It’s nice. In fact, it’s very nice. But it doesn’t come close to cleaning up all the litter in human hearts. Jesus’ action must lead to spiritual cleansing, otherwise the act eventually dies in the blind man’s death. And Jesus Christ is the only who can clean our souls.
The blind man will see the light of this world, thanks to God’s saliva. But because he comes to worship his Lord, he will forever see the light of the world. He will look on the face of Christ in all his compassion and beauty. This is what we gear up for during Lent. By way of allowing our Lord to clean up the spiritual litter that makes us whole once again so we can one day look on the face of God in all his beauty.
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
Physical light is nice. Physical sight is a gift, but not necessary. The spiritual light of a clean heart that awakens us and brings us to the resurrection is the road that completes the story.