Tuesday, April 5, 2011

That’s Gross!

“When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, ‘Go wash in the Pool of Siloam’. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.” John 9: 6-7

Perhaps when you hear this account of Jesus healing the man born blind your first thought is “That’s gross.” Right? Seriously, why did Jesus spit on the ground and then made some mud with his saliva and then smear it all over the guy’s eyes? Couldn’t He have just laid a hand on him and had the same outcome? Of course.

In fact if you read enough of the Gospels we see that Jesus heals in all kinds of ways: people touch His clothes, He lays hands on people, He simply gives the command. Sometimes the person had to go wash, or show themselves to the priest. So why in this case did He use mud made from His own saliva? Jesus is trying to show us that He operates in our world. While He is the Divine Son of God, He is also man. And Jesus uses lots of “earthly” things to do His work. He uses bread, wine, oil, water, mud. He uses ritual and cleansing and customs and laws. And He uses us. He came to this earth and became one of us in all things but sin, and this Incarnation continues in the way Jesus heals and preaches and continues to share His grace with us through the sacraments.

If we really think about it, the crucifixion was gross too. Sometimes we imagine it being like a statue or painting, but the reality is that it was graphic and bloody. It was torture and horror. It was flesh being ripped apart and bodily fluids being spilled. To eyes without faith the cross is nothing but a gross spectacle of human cruelty. But to the eyes of faith, the scene that is so disgusting becomes the picture of perfect love.

So out of saliva and mud come healing, out of blood and gore come salvation. Out of bread and wine come the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist. And out of you and me comes the ability to bring Christ to others through word and deeds. Could God have done it a different way? A less “earthy” way? A cleaner way? A less graphic way? Yes. But He chose to use the elements and things of this world to bring about the healing and salvation of the world. And He still continues to do so today.

During this Lent, let us strive not so much to move ourselves above and beyond the things of this world, but to transform the things of this world into tools of salvation and healing through the grace and power of the One who came to show us the way.

Dear Jesus, use whatever means are necessary to bring healing and salvation to my life. And allow me to be open to using anything in my life to bring others to You. Amen.

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