|The healing at the pool of Bethesda|
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. John 5:8-9
Let’s look at one of the clear symbolic meanings of this passage above. The man Jesus healed was paralyzed, being unable to walk and take care of himself. Others neglected him as he sat there by the pool, hoping for kindness and attention. Jesus sees him and gives him His full attention. After a short dialogue, Jesus cures him and tells him to rise and walk.
One clear symbolic message is that his physical paralysis is an image of the result of sin in our lives. When we sin we “paralyze” ourselves. Sin has grave consequences on our lives and the clearest consequence is that we are left unable to rise and then walk in the ways of God. Grave sin, especially, renders us powerless to love and live in true freedom. It leaves us trapped and unable to care for our own spiritual lives or for others in any way. It’s important to see the consequences of sin. Even minor sins hinder our abilities, strip us of energy, and leave us spiritually crippled to one extent or another.
Hopefully you know this and it is not a new revelation to you. But what must be new to you is the honest admission of your current guilt. You must see yourself in this story. Jesus did not heal this man only for the good of this one man. He healed him, in part, to tell you that He sees you in your broken state as you experience the consequences of your sin. He sees you in need, looks at you and calls you to rise and walk. Do not underestimate the importance of allowing Him to perform a healing in your life. Do not neglect to identify even the smallest sin which imposes its consequences upon you. Look at your sin, allow Jesus to see it, and listen to Him speak words of healing and freedom.
Reflect, today, upon this powerful encounter this crippled man had with Jesus. Put yourself into the scene and know that this healing is also done for you. If you have not done so already this Lent, go to Confession and discover Jesus’ healing in that Sacrament. Confession is the answer to the freedom that awaits you, especially when it is entered into honestly and thoroughly.
Lord, please forgive me for my sins. I desire to see them and to acknowledge the consequences they impose upon me. I know that You desire to free me from these burdens and to heal them at the source. Lord, give me courage to confess my sins to You, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus, I trust in You.
Diana Barrero Zalles ‘10
It is striking that the healed man didn’t even know who had just performed the miracle that would completely transform his life. He only found out later, when he went to the temple.
Jesus is a master of hiddenness. He remained hidden throughout his childhood and most of his life, living as an ordinary man. Today, Jesus remains humbly hidden in the Eucharist, the great miracle of love, which we can experience every day at Mass. St. Augustine says that “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues.” The very mystery of the Incarnation is inherently linked to the humility of a God who became man and died for us.
Jesus had compassion on this man, who had waited for healing for years, and yet had not lost hope. When the man finds Jesus to thank him, Jesus instructs the man to sin no more and to live a life of virtue, in order to preserve his spiritual health.
In what ways has Jesus healed us, and performed miracles in us that we haven’t even noticed? How can we be awakened to those miracles, small and large, as a call to live in virtue? I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Children from backgrounds like mine often carry psychological wounds similar to survivors of wars. And yet I’m unscathed, I have no trace of trauma, and I have been able to accomplish many of my goals in life.
In difficult times, I’ve run to the Sacraments, not knowing where else to go. Over time, it has become a habit to seek comfort in faith, hope, and love. And, through the Sacraments, Jesus came to heal me without me even realizing it.
Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C.
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the healing power of your Son was made manifest through signs and wonders during his earthly ministry. Open our eyes to the ways of grace at work among us in these Lenten days. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus faces an important decision when he notices a man who’s been sick for 38 years. Should he protect himself from being rejected, ridiculed, and persecuted for breaking the religious law about not working on the Sabbath? Or should he respond to the man’s suffering and work a healing?
The lame man did not ask Jesus for a healing. It was entirely Jesus’ decision. Apparently, the poor guy hadn’t heard of Jesus yet, as evidenced by his reply about needing someone to put him into the pool.
Why did Jesus focus on this man amidst a crowd of many who were ill, blind, lame, and crippled? Maybe he’d been sick the longest. Maybe he had more love for God than the others did. Maybe the Father had a special plan for his life. We don’t know, but whatever the reason, Jesus recognized his need and readiness to be healed, and so he decided to take the initiative and reach out to the man.
We don’t know why Jesus picks any of us out of the crowd. When he takes the initiative to give us any gift, healing, vocation or other blessing, all we can do is trust in his wisdom and accept what he does and praise him for being so good to us.
Jesus knew the ramifications of inviting the lame man to receive his healing gift: Both he and the man would be condemned as sinners. Have you ever been in that kind of a situation? Jesus helps you but it creates a reaction from others that ruins your joy? Or being the hands of Jesus, by responding to the needs of others, backfires with stinging criticism?
This is compassionate love — being united to the Passion of Christ. In compassion, we contact the authorities when we see children being abused, even though their parents might retaliate. In compassion, we take meals to a sick neighbor, even though his illness is making him cranky and he’s likely to lash out at us. In compassion, we speak up for someone who’s been misunderstood and rejected, even though we’ll become the next target of condemnation. In compassion, we advocate for employees who are being ill-treated by their bosses, even though we’ll be disdained or fired or blacklisted for stirring up trouble.
Right? Well, never think that God won’t take care of you if you work this hard for his kingdom!
To do less is unChrist-like. When we get nailed for doing good deeds, we are truly being like Jesus. We’re taking our compassion all the way to the cross. Actually, it’s Christ’s compassion. Our compassion is his. Our crosses are his. We are intimately united to him when we suffer for the sake of love.
Dare to follow your heart to where others need the caring touch of Jesus. Look for opportunities to be Jesus for others in ways that you’ve avoided before. Stretch your ability to face the cross, because you love others that much.