Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Power of Divinity

I think many Americans share my experience of hearing the same New Testament stories over and over. We have heard them so many times that we start to lose the sense of what miraculous events these are. They have become well-known fairy tales, tales of magic, tales of a very good and noble man. However, if the New Testament does not make you quiver, shutter, tremble, feel humble, enlighten you every time you read it, then it might be prudent to ask how TRUE do you think they are?

Yesterday I read this passage:

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:1-7 ESV)

As horrible as it is to admit, I found this passage very mundane, but why? I have never seen such a miracle, but I am sure that this is an act that the Lord, Creator, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, could perform.

One thing is that I have read this one and heard it many times. Someone comes to Jesus with a problem. He teaches them all a lesson and then solves their problem. Oftentimes it is in an unexpected way, a humble way, or he uses divine powers. Ooo, that’s some magic trick, Jesus. (I’m going to be struck down right now. Keep going maybe I will redeem myself.)

Another thing, even when I was a child, I thought it illogical that this man’s malady would be caused by sin. I would hate to think that if I had cancer, or woke up blind that the cause was my sins, or someone else’s. Where did those people get that? I would think that we would all be crippled in many ways if we shared the sins of our fathers and were crippled each time we sinned personally.

Oh, how wrong I am to initially think very little of this passage. I especially thought very little of it because, plain and simple, I have heard it before—I was desensitized to its meaning. I saw this passage on and it was followed by this teaching:

St. Ambrose of Milan teaches that the blind man touched by Jesus received more then just his sight. In one instant we see both the power of his divinity and the strength of his holiness. As the divine light, he touched this man and enlightened him. As priest, by an action symbolizing baptism he wrought in him his work of redemption. The only reason for his mixing clay with the saliva and smearing it on the eyes of the blind man was to remind you that he who restored the man to health by anointing his eyes with clay is the very one who fashioned the first man out of clay, and that this clay that is our flesh can receive the light of eternal life through the sacrament of baptism.

Blow me away, St. Ambrose! This short passage was so rich I probably could not handle it. How could I have forgotten that this is not a silly fairy tale, or a mundane act from a man that can cure anyone He touches? No, this was pure Act, pure Good, pure Truth, an act of Divinity being imparted on a man who, sin or no sin, suffered in this world of exile, in which we are not yet saved from sin.

Constantly, Jesus Christ redeems us sinners. He redeemed this man and reminded us of many other things (1) We are created by Him (it can be so easy to forget that in the workings of daily life) (2) We can receive eternal life (3) We must live a sacramental life passed down to us from Christ himself through his own ministry, which was given to the Apostles. Lastly, we are redeemed daily through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.


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