Forming the clay.
Homily 309 – 6th of Pascha (Man born Blind)
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
May 13, 2018
Epistle: (38) – Acts 16:16-34
Gospel: (34) – John 9:1-38
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
Christ is Risen! Christos Voskrese! Christos Anesthi!
The miracle described in today’s Gospel is even more remarkable than it might seem at first. Saint Basil and other Fathers tell us that this was not just a case of giving sight to a blind man born with eyes that did not function, but to someone who had no eyes at all! The second Exapostilarion for this Sunday says, “Along the way, our Savior found a man who lacked both sight and eyes…”.
When our Lord bent down and made clay – he made eyes. Just as He created the world and made humanity in the beginning.
If we look at the narrative of the creation of man in Genesis, it reads in Chapter 2 verse 7 that “the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground.”
Exactly the same way as he created eyes for the man born without them.
The implications of this were, in that day, pretty serious. St. John devotes a significant portion of His Gospel to this event. There were the surface elements – the relationship with the Jewish leadership and the Temple leadership.
They did a full investigation. What was this man hiding? Was he really born blind? This situation was astonishing!
And interestingly I don’t really think this was a revelation of Christ as God. Certainly one could draw that conclusion from the action.
But the action was the result of a question – who sinned?
Deformity, or imperfection, was the result of sin in Jewish thought. So the disciples asked Jesus, who sinned?
They had a dilemma. It couldn’t be the man – he was born that way. So it had to be the parents. But why weren’t the parents affected by their own sin? Why was the deformity brought on to the son?
And Christ answered them: You aren’t asking the right question. The foundation on which your question is built is incorrect.
This isn’t about sin at all.
This is about demonstrating once again that God is the Creator of the cosmos.
Jesus transported them, and everyone who heard the story, back to Genesis. Back to the beginning. God created.
It is fascinating to me that the Greek word used in the Symbol of Faith, the Creed, which we translate “maker”, can also mean “one who writes poetry.” Poet of Heaven and Earth.
The Source, the only self-existing One, uses this opportunity to point out that bad things happen to everyone. There is no reason.
We live in a fallen world. That is the cause of all our pain, our sorrow, our tragedy. And in our own effort, we cannot fix it. We cannot make it better.
But God can. And God does.
The Creator can re-create. He can form us, just as He formed the eyes of the man born blind.
That also has implications. We have to allow Him to form us. Like a potter who forms clay, God forms clay. Instead of vessels for water or wine we become vessels of the Holy Spirit. Containers of that which cannot be contained.
But we must accept the Potter’s fingers that press on us. It isn’t comfortable. It isn’t fun.
If we accept the formation, the saints testify that we experience God’s love through the discomfort, the pain even, of formation.
But if we resist – if we move, if we run away, the deformity occurs again, just like clay that moves on the potter’s wheel.
Jesus, through whom everything is created, is making clay and forming each of us right now. Taking those broken bits, those little deformities in our being, and making clay, and directing us to wash.
Not in the pool of Siloam, but in the pool of Baptism. In the pool of the Holy Spirit.
And in our obedience to this commandment of our Creator, our Master, and our Lord, we are enlightened. Illuminated.
We can see. For the first time – ever – we can see.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Christ is risen!