The Pool of Siloam

The healing of the blind man, whose eyes were anointed with clay by Jesus who then directed him to the Pool of Siloam to wash appears in a reading today (John 9: 1-17).  John tells us that Siloam means, “Sent”, and from this understanding has developed theological significance.  William Temple (in his Readings in St John’s Gospel) describes the Pool of Siloam as ‘The Pool of Apostleship’, emphasising that, “The Father sent the Son; the Son sent his disciples.”  Pictorially, this blind man, with his sightless eyes anointed with the healing salve of Christ’s touch, must therefore symbolically also known himself to be sent, and thereby find his eyes open spiritually as well as physically. However, Temple goes on to indicate that we are only adding this layer of theological interpretation because John draws our attention to the word, “Sent”.  Literally, the name of the pool has only been given because the water is brought to it artificially.

Lovers of St John’s Gospel revel in this injection of theological imagery into practical direction by the Evangelist.  The presence of Christ is bringing not only the truth in his words, but through every action with which that truth is perceived and felt.  The Christ-light that John sheds is divine, in that it finds its way into our inner being through pictures that are not static representations such as a painting or stained glass, but are vibrant with simple but intense activity, which is profoundly touching us in a sacramental way.  The elements of this story that we shall read at Morning Prayer today are there to be taken in and received as they are given.  Feel how this man was sent; contemplate what was happening as the clay was washed from his eyes.

John Mann