lent 4a: dirt ‘n spit ‘n life

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Gospels / Lectionary / New Testament

The Staircase of the Cathedral at Wells I don’t know why, but human nature is consumed with building ourselves up and tearing others down.

Part of the reason why Christianity, as Jesus taught it, is so at-odds with the world is that Jesus was all about building the ‘other’ up, and willing to be torn-down himself.

That’s the Way of Christ. It’s the Way of the Cross. It’s the Way of Lent.

It absolutely startles me that when the disciples see a man, afflicted with blindness from birth, their first thought is about sin.

Did HE commit a sin?

What, at birth? In the womb? He committed some horrific sin as a zygote and was therefore punished for life?

Are they joking?

Or, did his parents sin?

As a father of two young daughters, I don’t even want to ask the questions that follow that line of argument.

They see a man who has never seen a flower, a sunrise, the sea, his parents, or the place he called home – and they start wondering what he did wrong.

They aren’t reflecting on their OWN sin, of course. It’s not a “oh-gosh-I’m-not-living-the-way-I-ought” sort of moment.

It’s a “oh-the-poor-slob-I-guess-he-got-his-due” sort of moment.

And it’s at this point in the encounter that Jesus shines a Light on the Way as he lives it. He doesn’t look at him as a sinner, he sees someone to lift up.

And so the Son of God, Prince of Peace, Lord of All, and Creator of the Stars of Night, reached down into the dirt of the ground, spit into his own hand, and slathered a paste onto the man’s eyes.

He didn’t just look on him with sorry pity. He touched him. He got down in the dirt.

He heals him.

He lifts him up.

Because that’s what Jesus does.

Now, I know that this story of giving sight to the blind, like all the stories of Jesus giving sight to the blind, is about God giving spiritual sight to all of us who are spiritually blind. It’s about God showing all of us the way with new eyes, and a fresh look onto the Universe that God made.

But, that also means that Jesus comes to us. And digs in the dirt. And spits in his hand. And slathers us with paste.

So that our new eyes may behold the Light of the World.

I can’t shake the poetic links to God digging in the dust of the ground in Eden, and giving us his breathe that we might live. God lifted us out of the earth in the Beginning, and Jesus is still in the business of lifting us up. And opening our eyes. And bringing us Life.

And, as the Way of Jesus, it is meant to be our way too. There are a lot of broken lives out there that need picked up. Whole countries of lives, in fact. Japan. Libya. Sudan.

Let’s not look on people like they’re poor slobs, and wonder at how blessed we are. Let’s reach out – into the dirt – if we have to. Let’s dirty our hands. And let’s bring the Life that Jesus brings.