Spittle and Eyes

Spittle and Eyes

Fourth Sunday of Lent [A]

March 22, 2020

John 9:1-41

In healing the blind man, Jesus did something a bit unusual: He spat on the ground, made clay with His saliva, and smeared the clay on the blind man’s eyes. In this time we are battling the Covid-10, the fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus, we are educated that the one of the media of contamination is the human droplets like our saliva, and the entire point of this virus is contact with our eyes. When the infectious saliva meets the eyes, it is the sure reason we fall victim to this terrible virus.

However, Jesus was using the very same means of illness and transforming it into the means of healing both physical and spiritual blindness. Indeed, this kind of reversing action is the favorite pattern of Jesus. St. John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, in his homily, mentioned that three means used by the devil to destroy humanity are the same means utilized by Jesus to save humanity. The three means of the devil are the tree of knowledge of evil and good, the woman which is Eve who disobeyed, and the death of Adam who brought along all his descendants. Jesus then transformed three means into His own ways of salvation: for the tree of knowledge of evil and good, there is the tree of the cross, for Eve, there is Mary who obeys, and for the death of Adam, there is the death of Jesus who saves us all. The devil thought he could outsmart God, but truly, it is God who has the final victory.

In Genesis 2, when God created the man, He was acting like a craftsman or a sculptor. In ancient Rabbinic tradition, God used His own spittle to create a formable clay from the ground. The act of Jesus in healing the blind man brings us back to this story of creation. Jesus is not merely healing, but He is recreating the man into His own image. Even the means of ugliness and illness can be transformed into the means of beauty and salvation.

The covid-19 virus has destroyed many aspects of human life. It spreads fear and panic. It forces the government to take drastic measures, including locking down cities and stop the economic activities. It separates people from their friends and loved ones. The faithful are obliged to be far from the houses of the Lord. These are a painful and confusing time for many of us. Even some of us would cry, “Eli, Eli, Lama sabacthani?”

Yet, we must not forget that Jesus can always employ the same means of death and destruction to be His way of salvation. We ask the Lord to open our eyes of faith to see how God works through this time of crisis.

We thank for the gifts of our medical practitioners who put their lives on the line to care for those are sick; for our government officials who tireless work to contain the virus; for volunteers who spend their own resources to help battling the illness; for the priests and Church’s servants who serve the spiritual needs of the people despite many limitations. My prayer also goes for an Italian priest who made the final sacrifice as he asked not to be treated so that the limited respiratory machines may be used by younger and having a better chance to survive.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

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