Here’s Mud in your Eye

In my party days, I sometimes heard the phrase “Here’s mud in your eye.” (OK, I’m showing my age) Where did this phrase come from? Like a a good “scholar,” I went to the Internet and checked on Google – the source of all knowledge and wisdom! (sic) It may be a farming phrase, a way of wishing your neighbor a good and prosperous year. After all, plow horses could kick up a bit of mud. The phrase may come from the story of the man born blind in the Gospel of John. I don’t know how it came to be attached to the consumption of alcohol since drinking doesn’t open your eyes but usually closes them.

The Sundays after  Pascha give us different responses to Good News of the Resurrection of Christ. St. Thomas Sunday brings up the possibility of doubt which is a universal response to the Resurrection. Then, the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers tells of women who came to anoint the body of Christ despite the sorrow and anxiety that they felt. We too are called to serve the Body of Christ.  The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman demonstrates that some respond to the reality of the Resurrection by engaging in theological discussions when what is needed is the water that quenches all thirst.  The Sunday of the Paralytic shows that we can hear the Good News and believe it, but we are not able to respond because something paralyzes us. In each situation, Jesus meets each need and  brings healing.

There was a man born blind. Clearly, sinful actions can cause illness, but does all illness come from sin? If it does then in this case who sinned? A new born baby doesn’t commit sin, so maybe the parents are at fault?   Jesus dismisses this idea. Blindness is not a matter of genetics. There is something else at work.

We take nothing away from the miracle of healing if the story reminds us that many dwell in spiritual darkness. We have eyes but we cannot see.  What keeps us blind?  The Faith instructs us on the issue. Basically, it is our passions that keep us blind.  We set up habits of the heart that keep us in the dark. We have so much pride that we are basically unteachable. We are lazy and will hardly open a book, even though our salvation depends on it. Even religion can blind us because we would rather follow a form or ritual than try to truly know God.  Pharisees exist in every religion. They are people who have the form of religion but do not know the power of it.

Jesus heals the man born blind, but how does he do it? He takes dirt and spit and  and makes mud which he puts on the blind man’s eyes.  Isn’t this odd? How many times did Jesus heal with a touch or even by simply speaking a word? Why mud?  One answer may come from the book of Genesis. There the Lord took earth, breathed his breath into it, and created man. The divine and the physical were joined together. In the dirt and spit, the physical and the divine are joined together again.

This is a great mystery. In Greek, the word “musterion” means “sacrament.” The Sacraments of the Church are great mysteries, for in them the physical and the divine are joined together. Most importantly, in the Holy Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and blood of Christ as the Holy Spirit descends upon them.

God can use many ways to heal us of our blindness, but we must not neglect being anointed with mud. When we partake of the mysteries of Christ where the Lord joins his spit with the clay of the earth, we find healing indeed. Even in Christ,  human clay (an archaic word seldom used these days) was mixed with the divine Essence.  Mud and spit-God and man-this is how God works in us and for us.

I found this following list on the Orthodox England site. It expresses the power of this mixture.

“Clay cannot heal the blind and yet with the breath of God, it becomes the container for the healing grace of God.

Water cannot heal and yet the water of baptism heals because the blessed water bears the Holy Spirit.

Oil cannot heal and yet the oil of chrismation and unction heal because they are filled with  the grace of God.

A piece of cloth cannot heal and yet a priests stole can heal through the grace of Christ at the sincere confession of sins and the repentant intention not to sin again.

Bread and wine cannot heal and yet bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ heal through the Holy Spirit.

Wood and paint cannot heal and yet icons can heal by the Holy Spirit Who penetrates into their material essence and radiates grace from them.

Smoke cannot heal and yet incense burnt brings healing through the blessing of Christ.

Christ teaches us then that all things can be used for our healing and benefit and salvation, but that they must first be touched by His grace.”  (

Jesus told the blind man to go to a particular pool and wash. This was harder to do than it seems. After all, he was still blind and there would be many obstacles in the way. It would take quite an effort to get to this exact pool. Why not stop at a pool closer by?  I mean water is water, right?  And if he had made excuses because of his infirmity, would the blind man have been healed if he had taken the easy way?

Obedience turns things like water, oil, and even mud into a means of God’s grace. This story teaches us that you cannot separate faith from obedience (or works). Faith, if it is really faith, always brings about a response, and the best response is obedience. This may explain why even though I have received the mysteries of God, I still stumble. Taking the easier road of disobedience, I wonder why there has been no complete healing of my sight. I continue to stumble around in the haze and complain that God must not really love me, or that He is incapable of healing me.

Those who come to clearly see the full Light of Christ  we call saints. How did they become saints? Was special grace given to them?  Did they have some kind of religious genius? Maybe they were just born that way? No, they were sinners just like me and they needed mud in their eyes to gain their sight. The difference between us is that they were obedient and washed where they were told. I make excuses and do what is convenient.

Samuel said to King Saul, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.”

As the old hymn says, “I once was blind, but now I see…”

Well then, here’s mud your eye. What you do next is up to you.


6 Responses to “Here’s Mud in your Eye”

  1. Fr. Andrew Harrison Says:

    I am also an Orthodox Priest. I am preparing the sermon for Sunday of the blind man and was doing a search on the phrase. Your words will be helpfull for my sermon

    Christ is Risen!

  2. Fr. John Says:

    Dear Father,

    I’m glad if my poor words are of any use to you. Oh Father, I went to your church website. What a beautiful church. I hope I can visit someday and see it firsthand.


  3. Mrs.Hilda Guy Says:

    I would love to hear from you. You are still remembered fondly at our church in Houghton le Spring, I was very intereted in what you wrote about ecumenism and would like to discus it with you. I retired from the library in 1994 , but am very involved in Chu8rches Together in Houghton.
    Love to you and the family from Hilda

  4. Mrs.Hilda Guy Says:

    I would love to hear from you. I hope my e-mail address is of some use to you. I will watch for a reply so that we can get in touch and perhaps discuss ecumenism. I am very close to the Catholic Church in Houghton but I am still a Methodist. Best wishes to all. Hilda

  5. masqueraded Says:

    it absolutely was very worthwhile to learn to read I wish to line your post at my website. It could? So you et an account in Facebook?

  6. Martisch Says:

    It’s always that way, that man can take the work of the Lord and bring it to a drinking toast. I’m sure when this toast is said, not many think of the miricle in the fourh Gospel.

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