Daily Reflection – 4/2/19
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the Temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a Sabbath.( John 5:1-16)
It is important to remember that healing in the Gospels is not just about getting up and walking. Jesus command to be healed has everything to do with forgiveness of sins, and the audacity of Jesus to be doing such a thing. On the Sabbath no less! In the prevailing view at that time, only God could forgive sins. And this Jesus character, no matter what he did, could not be God, right?A
And when Jesus “healed” it was generally among and around all the most unlikely candidates, wasn’t it? This was also a challenge to the people of his time. Just as it remains one for our world today.
Yet, Jesus was there to heal – Jesus was there to forgive sins. Just like Jesus is still here to heal and still here to forgive sins.
I don’t know about you, but I can think of about 10,000 times in my life, maybe more, when I said that I wanted to be well, but was not really willing to be well at all!
And of course – even in this moment, I am not completely well. Who is? Jesus is still asking me – asking all of us – that question. Until we can answer the question “Do you want to be well?” honestly, we are stuck on the mat.
Jesus is speaking to all of us. We are all the man on the mat, we are all at various times, left behind – or at least it feels that way. We are all pretty used to our mat, even if we hate our mat.
As hard as it is to fathom, we are all sitting on those mats for a long periods of time in life, and we frequently return to them. Then Jesus, who invites us to vacate these mats, repeatedly visits us. There is a big risk in having the conversation with Jesus, there is a big risk in getting up, but there is also great reward.
I’m not at all sure why there are so many mats still at the side of the pool, but I am pretty sure that we are all called to go forth as Jesus did – not only to ask if people want to be well, but to help them to do so. Of course, if we are going to help others off of their mat, we have to be willing to vacate our own. And that is not so easy, is it?
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, I look to you with faith, knowing that you are the Lord of all. I hope in your boundless mercy since without you I can do nothing. I want to love as you deserve, so I come to you in this prayer to console you and bring you the joy of this moment together. Help me to be humble of heart so you will heal me.
That is a good question to ask ourselves as we travel through Lent. Do we have any idea what God’s will is for our lives? Are we learning to listen to Him a little more each day, through an active prayer and sacramental life? If we have not grown very much closer to God during this Lenten season, then perhaps today’s readings could be taken as a reminder to seek the Lord in prayer and listen for Him in periods of silence throughout our day. Self-will is a good thing, but God’s will is even better.