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The Man Born Blind and the New Creation

Dear Family in Christ,

One purpose of Lent is to prepare us for the renewal of our Baptismal promises at Easter. This year, our parish is blessed to do so along with our four catechumens, who are preparing to make these promises for the first time at Easter. To help all of us prepare, Holy Mother Church highlights different aspects of Baptism through particular readings from Sacred Scripture each Sunday.

Last Sunday, we encountered the mercy of Jesus and the mystery of ‘Living Water’ in His encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the Well. This Sunday, we will encounter Jesus’ healing power and the mystery of the ‘Light of the World’ in His encounter with the Man Born Blind.

We know that Jesus could have healed the man’s blindness by simply willing it- He is God, after all. Instead, He does something strange: After calling Himself the ‘Light of the World’, He ‘spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes’. To the average observer, this seems arbitrary; but we know that Jesus does nothing by accident.

The Pharisees would have been intimately familiar with the Creation account from Genesis 2, in which ‘the Lord God formed man out of the clay(or dust) of the ground’. They would also be familiar with the ancient Jewish belief that, when God made Adam out of the ‘dust of the earth’, He spat on the ground to make mud/clay. Why did they base this belief on? Consider that, in order to form something out of the earth, one would have to add moisture. Thus they believed that God used His very saliva, mixed with earth, to bring about the creation of the first man.

So when the Pharisees hear that Jesus, who has been claiming to be the Son of God, is imitating God’s creative action in restoring the Blind Man’s sight, a clear message is sent: Jesus identifies Himself with God, and proves it by the healing of the Blind Man. He brings about a ‘New Creation’ by imitating the First Creation, not only by restoring our sight but also our life.

Like many of our blessings, the gift of new life in Baptism is easily taken for granted. As we prepare to renew our Baptismal promises at Easter, may we remember that we were made new by our Baptism. In gratitude, may we radiate this great gift every day of our lives.

God love you,

Father Daniel

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