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I Want to Be Well
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
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.
Opening Prayer: Almighty Father in heaven, you sent your Son to encounter me. Help me to open my heart to his loving invitations in my life. Bless me with a deep understanding of your love for me as I pray with these words of the Gospel.
- Seek and You Will Find: Why did Jesus pick an encounter with this man? There were a large number of others who had infirmities of all types. For Christ, each one of us is an individual who needs his love. While we may sometimes feel ourselves lost among the many, Christ sees each of us and knows our whole story—every detail. When we seek him, we can be confident, whether we feel his presence or not, that he is blessing us with all the graces we need, according to his holy will.
- Do You Wish to Be Healed: Jesus asked what might seem like an inane question, “Do you wish to be healed?” When physical or spiritual illness has been with us for a long time, we can get accustomed to it, and resign ourselves to the fact that we can do nothing about it. This man has been sick for thirty-eight years. He was used to the illness, and probably despaired of being able to overcome it. Jesus knew that a healing would change his life. Did the sick man have the courage, after all this time, to become an active member of society? Did he have faith in the power of Jesus to heal him? For these reasons, Christ asked the question. God’s graces can radically change our life too. We need faith to ask for the healings we most need. And when healing is granted, we need courage to live accordingly.
- Take Up Your Mat and Walk: Our Gospel tells us that the invalid became well “immediately.” He took up his mat and walked away, forever changed in that instant. His first experience as a cured man was an interrogation by the Jews. How frightened and disoriented he must have felt. He hadn’t even learned Jesus’s name. But, Jesus found him. When life presents us with the unexpected, we can become temporarily disoriented too. However, we know Jesus. We know where to find him, and if we’re momentarily unhinged, our experience of prayer assures us that Jesus will find us and bring with him the peace that surpasses all understanding to settle our soul.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, please work in my soul to heal me of anything that keeps me from loving you and others. If it is your will, heal me “instantly” and grant me the courage to more effectively accomplish the mission you have given me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit during the day “instantly.”
For Further Reflection: In the School of the Holy Spirit, by Jacques Philippe.
Father Joshua West is a Legionary of Christ priest serving as chaplain at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.