Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 26, 2017
On this 4th Sunday of Lent, our Readings are filled with physical things that are brilliant communicators IF one takes the time to notice them…and listen to their message.
In the First Reading (Sam. 16), the Lord commands that David be anointed with oil. Oil was key to survival in the ancient world. It was back then, and continues to be today, extremely important in many different ways. Especially critical to the lives of our ancestors, it was an important source of nutrition, fueled lamps to provide light, was used as a medicine, and served to enhance one’s appearance. It’s remarkable how such an ordinary thing could be elevated to a place of extreme importance. How appropriate, then, for God to use oil to elevate an ordinary shepherd boy to king. Still, without water, there would be no oil.
Then, in the Gospel, John tells us how Jesus used spit…basically water…to make mud while giving sight to a man born blind. But this was no ordinary spittle. This came from the mouth of God. It was, in every way, like that which all human beings are capable of producing, except Jesus’s saliva was a transmitter of the Holy Spirit…the same Spirit that God used to call life into ordinary mud in the creation of humankind. The same Spirit that God breathed into the ordinary body of a young woman who became impregnated with The Eternal Word of God. The same Spirit that calls us to a new life in the waters of Baptism…and entitles us to share in the ministry of Christ…Priest, Prophet, and King, when we are anointed with Sacred Chrism in the Sacraments of Initiation.
As we begin the second part of our Lenten journey, we are reminded of how often in salvation history God has elevated the most ordinary of things so that they might serve as brilliant communicators of Divine Mercy and Love. But, in this passage of the Gospel, we are also reminded of how often we fail to see, understand, or appreciate what God puts right smack dab in front of us. Even the religious leaders of His time failed to recognize The Christ…because God placed Jesus before them in an ordinary human body.
Jesus’s decision to use mud made from the Living Water that came from the very mouth of God brings to mind the Creation of Adam and Eve. This healing miracle should, likewise, alert us to how our ordinary lives are elevated through our re-creation in Baptism. Through our Sacraments, God takes our extremely ordinary lives…sin and all…and elevates them so that we can be brilliant communicators of God’s abundant mercy and love.
The problem is…so few of us actually take the time to see just how extraordinarily important we are to God in the work of salvation. We have the power to nourish people with The Word of God. We are called to bring the Light of Christ into the darkest of lives. We are healers! And when we put on Christ through the Sacraments, there is nothing more that could enhance our appearance.