March 22, 2020: Fourth Sunday of Lent - Pastor’s Corner
Traveling in darkness is daunting. In our Gospel this week, Jesus heals a man who had been blind from birth. Since this famous miracle contains much theological and homiletic treasure, there are many aspects of this story to consider. For example, consider the moment between the man’s encounter with Christ and his healing.
When he first meets Christ, Jesus could have just touched his eyes and healed him. (He does this in other Gospel stories). But Jesus doesn’t. Instead, Christ uses his own spittle to make a miraculous mud pie which he applies to his eyes, and then sends him to wash in the nearby pool. We might ask: why did Jesus send him to wash in the pool? How far was the pool? What were the blind man’s thoughts as he journeyed from Jesus to the Siloam pool? What is the point of sending the blind man on one last dark journey before he was healed? Though the Gospel does not answer these questions directly, we see from the aftermath that it is the man’s faith in Jesus which is at the heart of his healing. Not only does the man make the journey to the pool of Siloam as an act of faith in Jesus’ power to enlighten his eyes; once he can see, the man testifies that Jesus has touched his heart. Though many judge him to be a sinner, his parents disown him under public scrutiny, and the Pharisees ban him from the synagogue, the blind man’s faith has opened his eyes and encouraged his heart to profess Jesus as the Messiah. In the Gospels though there are many examples of miracles and healing, there are only a few people who really recognize and discover who Jesus is. This man is one of the few. Through that last dark journey to the pool of Siloam, that final trip of blindness, Jesus’ instructions to “Go and wash” call the blind man to faith. From this dark moment of faith, his eyes are opened, and his heart ready to receive the light of Christ’s warmth and welcome.
As we come to the midpoint of these 40 Lenten days, we recognize that we often travel in darkness. As we “shelter in place” as a community, we are blind to what the future holds. In this challenging unknown, we might be blind of how the light of our faith can guide us. Though our fears and anxieties are varied, they are borne in shadow, without a clear sense of direction. We struggle with the isolation of social distancing. We grieve over suspension of public sacraments and liturgies. We are weighed down by the burdens of financial loss and insecurities. All of these things threaten to blind us to Christ who is our light. And yet Jesus does not simply come down, touch our eyes, and take away burdens and struggles. He sends us forth on a dark journey “Go and wash.” Like the blind man, Christ asks us to continue to live and act as people of faith. Though we are blind to the future, we recognize that Christ is with us even in this present darkness. Only when we are willing to trust Him to be with us will our eyes be opened to his light. As we “shelter in place,” may we face the daunting dark road of the future relying on Christ to be our guiding light.
Keep calm. Keep safe. Keep close to Christ.