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Kiko’s Mud, Part I

Miracle of Christ Healing the Blind Man, El Greco, circa 1570.
Miracle of Christ Healing the Blind Man, El Greco, circa 1570.

If you happen to find yourself in one of several Neocatechumenal “catechetical” sessions starting up on the island now, you’ll soon be taught, perhaps in the first night, a very peculiar interpretation of the story of the healing of the blind man in the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John.  The twisting of this scripture should serve as a warning to you…

Speaking of the Neocatechumenate in a catechesis early in his program, Kiko Arguello says that “Jesus will put mud in your eyes so that you will sense that you are a sinner, so that you may discover that you are dirty.[0] 

In a classic example of his many half-truths,  Kiko Arguello twists a familiar bible story of Jesus curing a blind man (John 9) in order to explain a basic principle of the Neocatechumenal Way’s  post-baptismal catechumenate.  

After presenting his teaching a bit more fully, let me give you three reasons why he’s twisting the truth and the meaning of a “catechumenate.”

Kiko teaches about the blind man in the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John:

What is the catechumenate? A time in which mud will be put in your eyes. It is Jesus Christ who does this. Because you do not know that you are blind. You don’t know that·· you–are dirty and therefore you don’t want to wash. Jesus will put mud in your eyes so that you may feel uncomfortable and have to go to wash in the waters of your Baptism, to wash yourself of your sins.  This is a marvelous catechesis…Jesus will put mud in your eyes so that you will sense that you are a sinner, so that you may discover that you are dirty.” [0]   

Kiko is correct when he says that the early Church saw Baptism and the Catechumenate in this miracle from the Gospel of John.  St. Augustine taught this very clearly.  The scene of the blind man washing in the Pool of Siloam corresponds to baptism and Augustine even calls the blind man a “catechumen.”[1]

But from there Kiko deliberately twists the Gospel reading, the belief of the early Church, and especially the meaning of the catechumenate.   Listen to a Neocatechumenal priest in the Archdiocese of Denver teach this here:

This story is not about the blind man’s sin, and Jesus does not perform the miracle to convince him of his sin, or of his blindness.  The blind man knows that he is blind.  When his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” [2]  In fact, the entire Gospel of St. John is structured around seven miracles or “signs”, and this was the sixth sign of seven meant to glorify God.[3]

"pelon", translated into English from the original Koine Greek, means, "clay."
“pelon”, translated into English from the original Koine Greek, means, “clay.”

Secondly, a close reading of the passage shows that Jesus did not put “mud” into the eyes of the blind man at all, but rather, “clay”.   The Greek word used in this passage is “pelon” (transliterated from the original Koine Greek), and its primary meaning is “clay”, as in that used by a potter.  The word is used the same way in Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 41:25; Nahum 3:14; and Romans 9:21.[4]  This “clay” reminded the early Church that God created man, including his eyes, from clay. [5]

St. John Chrysostom [347-407 AD] taught:

 “And why used He not water instead of spittle for the clay? He was about to send the man to Siloam: in order therefore that nothing might be ascribed to the fountain, but that you might learn that the power proceeding from His mouth, the same both formed and opened the man’s eyes, He spat on the ground; this at least the Evangelist signified, when he said, And made clay of the spittle.”[6]

Or in another place, St. John Chrysostom says: 

“He then confirms His words by deeds: When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. He who had brought greater substances into being out of nothing, could much more have given sight without the use of any material: but He wished to show that He was the Creator, Who in the beginning used clay for the formation of man. He makes the clay with spittle, and not with water, to make it evident that it was not the pool of Siloam, whither He was about to send him, but the virtue proceeding from His mouth, which restored the man’s sight.”[7]

Lastly, the passage says that Jesus did not fill the blind man’s eyes

with mud, but rather, he anointed the man’s eyes with the clay.

Transliterated into English from the original Koine Greek, "epechrisen", literally means "he on anoints"
Transliterated into English from the original Koine Greek, “epechrisen”, literally means “he on anoints”

 Here the Koine Greek word used is, “epechrisen”, which literally means “he anoints on.”[8]

Says St. Augustine [354-430 AD]:  

“Our Lord spat upon the ground, and made clay of the spittle, because He was the Word made flesh. The man did not see immediately as he was anointed; i.e. was, as it were, only made a catechumen. But he was sent to the pool which is called Siloam, i.e. he was baptized in Christ; and then he was enlightened.”[9] 

Summary

We can trust St. Augustine that this this passage is indeed about preparing for baptism, or coming to a deeper appreciation about our baptism.  While one will certainly come to a greater understanding of one’s state before God during any catechumenate, the catechumenate is not about Jesus making us feel dirty so that we will want to be clean.   Instead, it’s about His power to heal and about revealing to us the power of His grace.  He anoints us with clay and forms new, spiritual eyes in us.   

That’s far better than spending decades in Kiko’s catechumenate, being smeared with mud, don’t you think?



Footnotes

[0] Catechetical Directory, Vol. I, p14-15.

[1] Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. IV, Part I, St. John, By St. Thomas Aquinas, http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-John9.php, Retrieved October 18, 2014.

[2] John 9:2-3, and Kiko Chiesa a confronto su catechesi attualissime”, http://neocatecumenali.blogspot.it/2012/02/kiko-chiesa-confronto-su-catechesi_02.html, retrieved October 19, 2014.

[3] There are seven signs in the “Book of Signs” (John 1-12):

  1. Changing water into wine in John 2:1-11
  2. Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
  3. Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-18
  4. Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
  5. Jesus’ walk on water in John 6:16-24
  6. Healing the man born blind in John 9:1-7
  7. Raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45

[4] Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, http://biblehub.com/greek/4081.htm, retrieved October 18, 2014.

[5] Gen. 2:7

[6]  St. John Chrysostom, Homily 57 on the Gospel of John, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/240157.htm

[7] Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. IV, Part I, St. John, By St. Thomas Aquinas, http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-John9.php, Retrieved October 18, 2014.

[8] Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, http://biblehub.com/greek/2025.htm, retrieved October 18, 2014.

[9]  Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. IV, Part I, St. John, By St. Thomas Aquinas, http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-John9.php, Retrieved October 18, 2014.

References

11 thoughts on “Kiko’s Mud, Part I”

  1. The neocatecuminal way has been accepted in full by the church. Question the doctors of the church if you have any problems. Don’t throw mud where you don’t understand

    1. Do you have problems reading English, Michael? I amply demonstrated that at least two Doctors of the Church, St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, interpreted John 9 in a radically different way than Kiko. Kiko abuses this beautiful story of healing to bolster his deformed view of the catechumenate, so if you wish to refute my post, please use quotes from the Doctors of the Church.

      1. St. Augustine told God to not trust him because he would betray God, if he’d betray God, is he really that more trustworthy than any of us?

  2. what a terribly incorrect interpretation by kiko. i don’t think i’ve ever heard of john 9 being explained the way kiko does, probably because the symbolism of the clay (not mud) is so obvious. … well, i guess it’s obvious to those who’ve been taught correctly. this goes to show the danger that kiko’s teaching can pose especially to people who have little to no background in even the basics of Christian faith.

    1. clay = mud. This is a ridiculous article fueled by hate. The reading clearly states he spit on the ground and formed clay/mud. Clay is made by mixing a specific type of dirt with moisture. So technically clay can be considered a synonym of mud.
      On top of that it is pure pride to believe that something that has been read and personally approved by Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) would be considered a false interpretation.
      Benedict XVI has personally read all the material, rites, and catechesis for each step of the way.

      1. Hello David Rodriquez from Newark and/or Philadelphia:

        Ask your catechist for permission to read my entire post, not just the title. Once you secure that permission, read my post, including what the Church Fathers, St. Augustine, and St. John Chrysostom said about John 9. You’ll quickly see that Kiko’s teaching about that story in the Gospel of John wildly contradicts them.

        By the way, truth does not equal “hate”.

  3. I grew up in the Neocat. Way. I left it just over a year ago. Thank you for your thorough, and well researched entries; they are slowly opening my mind more, seeing more of where they really screwed with my faith etc. They’re not all bad, but hey, everyone’s got good bits to them right… doesn’t justify that crap.

  4. In his Angelus address of March 2, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI confirms the orthodox reading of the story of the blind man and the mud:

    “And he immediately takes action: mixing a little earth with saliva he made mud and spread it on the eyes of the blind man. This act alludes to the creation of man, which the Bible recounts using the symbol of dust from the ground, fashioned and enlivened by God’s breath (Gn 2: 7). In fact, “Adam” means “ground” and the human body was in effect formed of particles of soil. By healing the blind man Jesus worked a new creation.”

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