In today’s gospel, Jesus heals a man blind from birth. The author of the gospel, St. John, is revealing a lot in recounting this miracle, it takes up the entire 9th chapter. I want to focus on one little detail, only mentioned in a few words, that speaks so much to our journey as parents.
Jesus covers the man’s eyes with mud and then asks him to wash the mud off, but Jesus is specific in how he wants that accomplished. He specifically wants the blind man to wash in the Pool of Siloam. Why this? Why can’t the man rub the mud off his eyes, or find a less public place to wash? I think one reason is that St. John is teaching us something about healing, and for this reason he specifies for us that Siloam means “sent.”
Why is that a big deal? It’s a big deal simply because if flies in face of our conception of both healing and sending. How easy is it to assume that if I’m not healed, I’m not ready, and if I’m not ready, I shouldn’t be sent? It’s natural, and we hear it all the time. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, after all. How many times have you avoided a venture because you weren’t ready or didn’t feel like you were good enough yet?
St. John is revealing God’s mind in terms of preparation, healing, and being sent. I think the point here is that it is precisely in being sent that we are healed. God doesn’t heal us BEFORE sending us, he heals us THROUGH the mission he is sending us on. What we need to be “prepared” isn’t perfection, it is faith. Our yes will carry us through.
This idea isn’t simply found in this passage. It’s all over scripture, the old and the new testaments. Perhaps Abram learned faith by leaving his home, and in doing so was strengthened enough to trust God’s promise of descendants despite his and Sarah’s advanced age. Gideon was a coward when God called him and ended up leading three hundred men against an army of over one hundred thousand. He was literally hiding when the angel of the Lord appeared to him. God didn’t heal him before sending him, Gideon was healed through the sending. As a final example, the apostles weren’t called after the Spirit descended and they had the courage to die for Christ, they were called years before then, and demonstrated their imperfections regularly along the way.
What does this have to do with you and me? It means that we don’t have to be perfect before giving our yes to God and allowing him to send us on a mission. That mission might be taking the next step in your personal prayer life, praying out loud with your spouse, or your kids. It might be having another kid. It could be volunteering at church, or getting your family involved in some kind of service project. It’s so easy to say “I’m not good enough” to any of these. Say yes. It won’t be perfect. It will almost certainly be uncomfortable. But a yes to God will always heal us and draw us closer to God. His mercy will overshadow you, and his grace will abound. The blind man said “yes” to Christ before he was able to see.
What is one step you can take towards God today, regardless of whether you feel “good enough?”
*A final note: Discerning God’s call is exceptionally important here. There are situations where our wounds may be significant enough that there are things we should not start on. These are more serious wounds, often trauma, such as divorce or a death in the family. You should always seek healing after these types of events before taking major steps. The point of this article is that we often want to be perfect before responding to God’s call and this message of inadequacy is often merely a lie of the devil. If you are uncertain if what is holding you back is a wound that needs immediate healing before taking a next step, talk to your priest or a trusted spiritual advisor to help you discern.