We have two different anointings in today’s readings. Samuel anoints David with oil as the king for the Israelites and Jesus anoints the blind man with clay made out of his spittle and mud. Both anointings are significant, powerful and empowering. They transformed the anointed ones.
The material with which the anointing is done seems immaterial. In all incidents we call ‘anointing’ the power comes from God. The anointing is with a material thing and often done by human mediation, but the action and power flow from God’s design. Thus we have anointing in baptism, confirmation, holy Orders and in sickness. These are sacraments, which mean the invisible grace/Spirit of God being imparted through a visible human action.
The effects and power of this divine touch works on the anointed one, first transforming that one spiritually and physically and then empowering to do God’s work and God’s design. Sometimes the anointing happens at the initiative of God and at other times as a human desire, request and necessity.
David’s anointing seems to have started from God, but there was a need perceived by the prophet and the people of God because of the inaction and ineffectiveness of King Saul, whom David replaced. In the other case the blind man makes the request, perceiving and feeling the need for healing and sight. Both David and the blind man were empowered to take up new missions, the former to rule Israel and gather a people for God, and the latter to witness to God’s presence among the people. The illiterate blind beggar at the street corner, suddenly turned out to be a ‘powerful teacher’ and a witness to the glory of God.
In both these incidents the human and the divine perceptions and designs are different. Samuel seems to be fascinated by the physical features of the other seven sons of Jesse, but God did not choose any; in the case of the blind man human perception considered his blindness as a consequence of the sins of his ancestors, and God’s design was to transform the blind man into a powerful witness to the glory of God.
Reflecting on the contrasts of human and divine perceptions let us act upon the advice of St. Paul today, “Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).