A Face Full of Mud

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Sometimes, we ask God for a miracle, and we end up with a face full of mud.

Many of us suffer greatly in this life. And in the midst of this suffering, we pray for assistance, for Divine intervention. We pray to Jesus our Healer to work a miracle of healing for us or for another.

Why not me? Why not this? Why not now?

Often, so often, our prayers are met with a no. Or worse, silence. When we are suffering deeply, knowing Jesus is indeed the One who Heals, yet remaining unhealed ourselves can be immensely painful. It can feel like rejection, like forsakenness. It can lead us to that feeling of abandonment that Christ experienced on the cross: “My God, why have you forsaken me?!” I know the pain of that cry.

Today’s Gospel passage has taught me a lot about that cry. Because sometimes, as we see in the Gospel, sometimes the way God works His miracles looks a whole lot like a face full of mud.

Unlike most of Jesus’ other miracles of healing, this miracle is not neat and tidy, it is dirty…literally. Jesus spits on the ground to create mud and rubs it all over the blind man’s eyes.

Additionally, this miracle does not take place immediately at Christ’s touch or word—it is delayed. Only after the man leaves Jesus and follows His instructions to wash the mud off does the miracle occur. There is a time of waiting. There is a time of uncertainty.

This is my word of encouragement for those of us who cry out for healing and are left without it: Maybe the answer isn’t a “no,” but a “not yet.” Maybe it isn’t the neat, tidy, miracle that allows us to “drop our crutches” at the door, which in truth is what most of us desire. Maybe it is a slow unfolding that we barely see or a set of circumstances that just don’t seem like they’ll lead to our healing—such as a face full of mud. Maybe Christ isn’t even focused on our physical, practical healing, because what He desires more is our spiritual healing and He’s going after that first. As a result, maybe we won’t get the healing we desire until we reach eternity. And that is hard to understand when met by the God-Who-Heals-and-yet-Won’t.

Our path is still the path of the blind man. Choosing to trust Jesus, even with a face full of mud. Following His lead, even when that means walking away without our miracle. And being ready to see His healing work unfold in our lives. We never really know how the Lord is working to answer our cries. But we do know He is. Maybe He just needs time to gather more spit.

Miracles of the Cross

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Many of you know one of my favorite saints is Padre Pio. Just recently I finished a book about this fascinating man. He is a modern saint who died in 1968 and many miracles were attributed to him during his life. People would travel from across the globe to seek and beg for his intercession while hundreds of letters arrived each day with the same hope.  

One particular day, after meeting with yet another person asking for his intercession, he turned to the friar standing next to him and said, “Son, you’ve seen everybody asking Padre Pio to help them with this and that. I wish somebody would say, ‘Padre Pio, pray that the Lord might help me to bear the cross.’”  

Each one of us carry crosses we would rather not, and we often wish that these crosses would just go away. I know I do. I have prayed or wished many times for my crosses to be taken away and I am sure you have too. How many times have we wished that a particular coworker would simply leave the company? How many times have we prayed that an illness would just go away? How many times have we begged God to take away a particular weakness we have?  

These are not bad things to pray or wish for, even Jesus prayed that God might take his cross away if it be His Will (Luke 22:42). However, Jesus also prayed that if this cross should not be taken, he would have the grace to carry it well, and carry well he did.  

Padre Pio reminds you and I that sometimes there are crosses we are invited to carry and never get rid of. We can get so caught up in the miracles, the times when the cross is taken away, that perhaps we miss the subtle, more impressive miracles. The miracle of someone who has gone through the worst and whose heart is still able to love, the miracle of seeing a Simon come forth to help carry our cross, the miracle to love those who push our buttons and even hurt us. Maybe these are the miracles to pray for, to pray to God for the miracle to bear our cross well. We may be surprised at just how many miracles we see.