March 15, 2023, 6:00 AM


As he (Jesus) walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. Jesus 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. John 9:1,6-7.


Water seems to have redeeming qualities. However, when water is mixed with dirt, the outcome is mud. Instead of a liquid with a cleansing property, mud goes in the opposite direction. It is something in which a person gets stuck. Think of Job being sick and caught in the mud (Job 30:19).

Mud can nevertheless have redeeming qualities. While St. Francis may never have applied mud to a person for healing, he did use mounds of mud to heal the church at Assisi by rebuilding her walls. Yet, centuries before, Christ took mud to a new level of healing.

Unlike the mud used on buildings that required only water, the mud that Jesus used was made from his own saliva – a water infused with the spit (Spirit) of God. This was special mud. Upon seeing the blind man, Jesus applied this spit-infused dirt to his eyes. Jesus could have used something more sanitary (think hand or wet wipes), but chose to show that God, even in the most unlikely conditions, can bring about healing. No one in their right mind would have put mud into the eyes of another person. That could only have made their situation worse.

Jesus sent the man to “clean up.” Healing is not always immediate despite our fondest hopes and expectations. Sight did not return until the man took the effort to follow the direction of Jesus and wash in the water of Siloam. Upon doing so, his sight was restored.

This story depicts well the nature of ongoing conversion (or turning in another direction) that everyone encounters in following a God who is pursuing each of us out of love. It is in our spiritual stumbling about that God comes to us. We erroneously expect to see our healing by traditional means. When that does not happen, we often lose faith.

When Christ “spits” on us with something that we might find abhorrent, we have the option to follow Christ who sends us out to grow and see clearly again, or to step away from Christ and go our own way (with mud still clinging to our eyes). The choice is ours, as was the choice of the blind man who went to Siloam following the command of Jesus.

As early church scholar Origen said, “Conversion is a process, not an event.” The blind man’s journey was a process in conversion. For us, the conversion process includes being open to recognizing the dire situations we face and often create. Second, it is a willingness to encounter events that are infused with the Spirit of God. Yet, many times those experiences are unorthodox like having God rub “spit-filled mud” in our eyes. Third, conversion includes following God’s direction to wash out the “spit-filled mud” from our eyes to allow us to see God more clearly. And, conversion isn’t complete without returning with gratitude to God who gives us these life-changing “spit-Spirit-infused mud” encounters.

Prayer and Blessings during these “spit-Spirit-infused” Lenten Days,

Fr. John