God’s not doing it right?

– Fourth Sunday of Lent –

Jesus spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (a name that means ‘sent’). So the blind man went off and washed himself, and came away with his sight restored. [John 9:1-41]

The gospel reading in year C for the fourth Sunday of Lent is the story of the prodigal son – that incredible story of God’s enthusiastic desire to welcome us back into his embrace.

However, the Church provides the use of the year A reading as referenced above, particularly for those Masses where adults preparing for baptism at Easter are present. We reflect on this reading in solidarity with them and in joyful anticipation of welcoming them into our faith community.

Many things could be written about this text, but let’s examine two aspects.

Firstly, Jesus heals in a most unusual and surprising, even gross manner. He “spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’.” Here we discover that when we come to Jesus asking for healing, we must be willing for Jesus to respond however he wishes. Jesus would heal, but it was messy, it required the man to allow Jesus to rub paste into his eyes, and he still was not healed. The blind man then had to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. Unlike Naaman in the Old Testament (See 2 Kings 5), at no point do we see the man protest Jesus’ actions or his direction. He is open; he does as Jesus asks, and he is healed – but it’s a process.

Secondly, the religious leaders were clearly triggered by Jesus’ actions. To begin with, they didn’t believe that Jesus had healed the man and went to great lengths to prove the man’s identity. Then they got upset with Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath. The Pharisees – experts in the Law – then state that Jesus “cannot be from God.” They spoke as if they owned God – as though God could only work within the box they’d created for him. But God is always bigger than our boxes, beyond our expectations, and cannot be limited by what we think God can and cannot do.

Holy Spirit, help us to allow God to do whatever he wishes in our lives and give us the eyes always to recognise the hand and heart of Jesus.

by Dcn Peter Pellicaan

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