Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity."

"In all the miracles of healing performed by Our Divine Savior, we must admire the remarkable goodness which caused Him to heal first the sickness of the soul, then that of the body. He teaches us the great lesson that we must first purify our consciences before turning to God for help in our earthly needs." – St John Bosco

Gospel text (Jn 5,1-3.5-16):
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.

Today, Saint John speaks of the parable of the pool of Bethzatha. It rather looked like the waiting room of a traumathology hospital. «There lay a multitude of sick people-blind, lame and paralyzed» (Jn 5:3). Jesus went up there. It's rather curious!: Jesus manages to be found always in the middle of some problem. Wherever He goes, there is always somebody to be “liberated”; there He is when it comes to making people happy.

“Do you want to be well?” -John 5:6

Jesus poses such a poignant and direct question that it cannot help but jump out at us. Instead of asking the sick man if he wants to be cured of his disease, Jesus asks if he wants to be “well”.

Jesus jumps directly to the ultimate goal: contentment, joy, and peace. Even with modern medicine on our side, he offers so much more than we can ever provide, including forgiveness of sins. Therefore, this Gospel serves as a reminder for us to utilize this penitential Lenten season as an encouragement to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with our Spiritual Doctors: our beloved priests.

Just as he asks the sick man in the Gospel, he encourages us to ponder whether we are wallowing in our own pain and excuses. Are we choosing to be ensnared by a certain sin tendency? Are we purposefully letting a long-term illness define us? Are we consciously using a challenge in our lives as an excuse?

Jesus offers total and complete forgiveness from our sins and freedom from what ails us in life. Physicians face serious issues with non-compliance among patients who fall away from their treatment plans. A physician cannot treat a patient who does not want to be healthy. In precisely the same way, the desire to be well is central to Jesus’ offer.

That helpless disabled man in our gospel passage today, close to the water, does he not remind you of our own helplessness to do good? How can we dare solve by ourselves that which has a supernatural scope? Don't you see, every day, around you, a big crowd of disabled ones that are “moving” themselves about, while being totally unable to get rid of their lack of freedom? Sin paralyzes man, grows him old, kills him... We have to fix our eyes on Jesus. We need him —His Grace— to plunge us into the waters of prayer, of confession, of the opening of our spirit. You and I may be eternal disabled persons, or, on the contrary, bearers of his light.

Today in prayer, picture Jesus asking you, “Do you want to be well?”

What will you answer?

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