We find ourselves at the sixth and final Sunday of Pascha. On this particular Sunday, the Orthodox Church remembers the Blindman who was given sight for the first time in his life, by Christ. Indeed, Jesus healed many who were blind, yet, today’s miracle entailed making eyes which enabled the man to see.
The Blindman was born without eyes, having empty eye sockets. Since He is the Creator, Jesus made human eyes from dirt and His own spittle. This is reminiscent of the creation of man: then God formed man out of dust from the ground, and breathed in his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Gn 2:7).
Christ spat on the ground with His saliva to make the dust into a clay. However, it is His breath which is in the midst of the saliva that creates and gives life. Thus, His breath emits the Holy Spirit. After His Resurrection when He appeared to His Disciples, Jesus said: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit
Last Sunday we heard about the Living Water, in Christ’s dialogue with the Samaritan Woman. The Holy Spirit is the Living Water, Who is life-creating, leading us to eternal life. The Blindman received the Holy Spirit when he was healed, given the gift of sight.
But why the water? Why would Jesus tell the man to wash his eyes in the Pool of Siloam? Water has always been associated with purification and renewal. We are baptized by water and given the Seal of the Holy Spirit by the sacrament of Chrismation. The Blindman going to the Pool of Siloam to wash his eyes and then being able to see, is an image of Baptism and Chrismation. Being blind, the man transforms in the waters of Siloam from darkness to light. Our Baptism is our first death. We die to sin as we are immersed in the water and rise in Christ as the priest raises us up.
The Blindman did not know who Jesus was prior to this miracle but now having been granted sight, worshiped Him as Lord and Savior. For the man was not only healed physically but spiritually.
Similarly with the past two Sundays, this Sunday also relates to Jesus being in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. On the last day of this eight-day Feast, water was drawn up from the Pool of Siloam and mixed with wine and then poured at the foot of the altar. This was for both purification and for remembrance of the water flowing from the rock that Moses struck. Behold I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it so the people may drink (Ex 17: 6).
It is also interesting that in the Gospel of John, the healing of the Blindman was the sixth sign or miracle of Christ. Its remembrance is always celebrated on the 6th Sunday of Pascha. Furthermore, God created man on the 6th day. Both Mt 17:1 and Mk 9:2 cite that after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up on a high mountain. This of course is the Transfiguration of Christ which occurred around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. So, the number six clearly has a biblical significance, referring to the creation of mankind.
Hitherto, the Blindman was healed on the Sabbath which is the 7th day or last day of the week. The correlation here is that the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath (Mk 2:28). Jesus specifically healed the Blindman on the Sabbath just like He did the man with the withered hand (Mt 12:10) and the paralytic (Jn 5:15) which we read about two Sundays ago. This was to expose the blindness of the Jews who thought it was unlawful to heal someone on the Sabbath.
Christ transcends the Law, desiring mercy and not sacrifice. Even His Disciples questioned Him on the cause of the man’s blindness: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind (Jn 9:2)? Jesus explains to them that this is irrelevant. What is important is that His works are manifested through this man so that those who bear witness may believe.
It was a common belief during that time that maladies were a result of someone’s sins or the sins of their parents. Jesus rejects such a notion and states: neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him (ibid, 9:3). This is a message for each of us. Still today, many people believe that diseases and hardships are a result of their sins.
We all at some time or another will experience disease and hardship in our lives. Rather than question the reason or blame someone or something, let us be faithful, knowing that God will provide the healing in His time and way. Whether that is a physical or a spiritual healing, or both, God knows what we need and what is best for our salvation.
Certainly, there are many who in this life may not be physically healed of their ailments. However, that does not mean that Christ does not heal them spiritually. Christ provides healing in so many ways. He does not forsake us which is why we should not forsake Him.
As we heard in the 2nd Doxastikon at vespers on Saturday evening: O Christ our God, the noetic Sun of Righteousness, who by Your immaculate touch illumined in both ways the man who was deprived of sight from his mother's womb, do also illuminate the eyes of our souls, and make us sons of the day, so that with faith we may cry out to You: Great and ineffable is Your tenderheartedness for us, O Lord who loves humanity, Glory to You!
In this hymn, the day refers to our daily lives of prayer, good works and repentance. The night refers to death when we will no longer have the opportunity to repent or do good works. That is why we should live our lives to the fullest in faith, remaining vigilant because we do not know the time or day when we will depart this life.
As we approach the last few days of Pascha let us be comforted that the Risen Christ has destroyed death by His own death so that we may partake of the Living Water in His Kingdom.
Christ is Risen!
Glory to His Three-Day Resurrection!
A graduate of Long Island University, College of Pharmacy, and Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, John works to share the richness and beauty of the Orthodox Faith with the wider community.
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BONUS: Y2AM has released a brand new ministry training course. And check out our "Live the Word" episode for the Sunday of the Blind Man: