Today we are introduced to the blind man who comes to Jesus near the Pool of Siloam. Jesus opens his eyes and now he can see. These 40 days of Lent, in spiritual terms, are a time for us to open our eyes to the compassion of God and the gift of faith. Mothers Day, for instance, is a tradition dating back to several centuries, when the fourth Sunday of Lent was an opportunity for people, during Lent, to appreciate their witness to God’s kindness and to thank God for the gift of faith received through them. When young babies opens their eyes, often the first sight they behold is a mother’s face. And as the years progress, we see the imprint of God more clearly when we look into the wisdom and the compassion which our mothers offer to us.
There are three elements that make up the miracle of the blind man’s healing. There is the water from the pool where the man is sent to wash – “Go and wash” Jesus says “in the pool”. There is Jesus mixing the clay from the ground with the spittle and anointing the man’s eyes. And there is the name of the pool to which the blind man is told to go – it’s called the Pool of Siloam, which means “sent”.
There is no coincidence in the occurance of these three elements in this Gospel. Each of these three elements speak about baptism. When we are baptised, we are washed with water. We are anointed with the oil on our heads. And then we are commissioned, we are “sent” to witness to Jesus.
That’s why this Gospel from St John is read for us today during the season of Lent. Traditionally the season of Lent was the time of preparing new adult Christians for baptism at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night and this Gospel was a looking forward to the gift of baptism. Like the blind man, we too are washed clean of our sins. Our weaknesses are healed by the grace of God who enables us to be stronger because of his help. Like the blind man, we are anointed when we are baptised. In the ancient times before Jesus, it was only the kings and important leaders who were anointed with holy oils. But in the Christian way of things, everyone is anointed, everyone is equal because each one of us, whatever our station in life, are children of God the Father.
And like the blind man, by our baptism we too are directed towards the Pool of Siloam. We are sent. We are washed clean and anointed so as to be sent out to witness to God. Baptism is not a personal gift. It’s not a personal affair. Baptism is a gift to the entire community of faith because, when we are baptised, we join the community of brothers and sisters who give witness to the compassion of God.
During these Lenten days, it’s a worthwhile exercise to look at the quality of our Christian witness. We have been washed clean and anointed. We have been sent to Pool of Siloam. But have we gone there? To what extent have we been taking seriously our call to witness to the compassion of God?
On Mothers Day, we recognise the witness and good example of our mothers in living out their faith. Let’s take a leaf out of their book in the week ahead and learn from the things they say and do. After all, it was they who gave birth to us and it was they who brought us to be baptised and for this we can be (literally) eternally grateful.