mud in your eye

Message given digitally for Mothering Sunday, 22 March 2020

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

John 9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

When I was a child my mother – who was a stickler for the rules – used to say to me when I went out to play, “Don’t get too muddy.” And when I came back in from being out (often muddy!) she used to say, “Now go and wash your hands.”

Mud was ‘dirt’ to my mother. Yet mud is not always as dirty as we might think. Jesus applies a poultice of mud to the blind beggar’s eyes as a means of healing. These days people go in for mud packs, massages and even baths. Often at great cost.

Mud has long been thought to have healing properties. A form of ‘antidote’, drawing out impurities from the skin.

After applying the mud poultice to the beggar’s eyes, Jesus sends him away to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam. Once the King’s Pool, this may have been a Mikvah – a pool used for ritual bathing and cleansing. Jesus sends the newly-healed man to wash his eyes, as a sign of his spiritual as well as his physical cleansing.

In these unprecedented times scientists are urgently looking for an antidote to the Covid-19 virus. Something to draw out the impurity. Our prayer is that they will find something soon.

And while we wait we are washing ourselves perhaps better than we ever have before.

Public worship has been suspended, but the Church can never be shut. In this season of Lent circumstances have forced us to fast from many of the simple comforts of life. We are reminded of just how fragile and uncertain life can be. In the words of the rapper Lecrae, ‘We haven’t lost control of our lives, we’ve lost the illusion we were ever in control’.

So let us use our social isolation to attend to our inner selves, to devote ourselves to prayer, and where and when we are able, to offer kindness and support to all.

Let it be.

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