There is a great little quip that I found over at Lindy Black’s “Sermon Fodder” that I thought I would start with this week…. It has been suggested that the origins of denominations occurred when the healed blind men met each other. At first they were all excited about the miracle of sight that Jesus had given them, but as they talked about how Jesus had healed them, they began to discover some significant differences. For some, the healing came with simply a touch from Jesus (Mt 9:29; 20:34). Another proudly boasted that he had enough faith so that Jesus didn't have to touch him to perform the miracle (Mk 10:52). Another meekly exclaimed that Jesus not only touched him twice, but also "spit on his eyes" in order for him to see clearly (Mk 8:23). The final one really felt embarrassed to admit that even though a touch wasn't part of his healing, Jesus' "spit" wasn't enough. Jesus had mixed his saliva with dirt and put the mud on his eyes and then told him to go and wash in some pool of water (John 9:6-7). Since each one thought his healing was normal and better than the others, they divided into spittites and non-spittites; muddites and non-muddites; little muddies, some muddies and lot muddies, touchites and non-touchites. Denominationalism was born.
But then it occurred to me that maybe we might be missing the point; that we might be failing to see what we are supposed to see and not just what we want to see. Confused? Please allow me to explain. The sacraments are the ways in which we become aware of the presence of the Almighty in the midst of us. We see and know God presence chiefly in the celebration of Eucharist and Baptism. We recount the saving acts of God in human history and we recall what God is doing among us so that we can celebrate not only what we have had in the past but also what we have in the present and the hope we have for the future. The healing of a man who has been blind from the moment of birth, while maybe not directly known as a sacrament, is at least sacramental. That is to say, it should make us keenly aware of the presence of God among us and that we should be able not only to see God but also to acknowledge and give thanks for the divine presence that surrounds us.
What makes you aware of the presence of the Almighty? Is it a glorious sunset? A problem that seemed insurmountable is suddenly overcome? Watching the face of a sleeping child? It is both significant and crucial to know that Jesus saw the man – really saw him. Jesus saw him and like a bright light turn on in a darkened room he came to this man and gave him light and new life. Instantly the formerly blind man and all the people around him saw this great and wonderful thing. And then they had to do one of the most human things – they questioned why it happened and how exactly this incredible thing came to be. Over and over the man told his story: the one the call Jesus came and made mud and put it on my eyes and then sent me to wash at Siloam. Now I see you!
Take the time to stop and really see where the kingdom might be breaking through and work to help the Light shine brightly so that others might see Jesus and through Jesus see the way home too. Go light your candle, take it to the darkness and reach out your hand for someone else to take it. The Church is not call to husband a small bonfire that only a few can get around. The Church is called to carry torches to reach out to those who are helpless needy and worn. And in the process we might discover some light for ourselves too. So let us do so in Jesus name.