Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Among the columns at the pool at Bethesda lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the bubbling up of the waters; for it was believed that an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, Jesus said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your sleeping mat and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his sleeping mat and began to walk. – John 5:3-9
Here we have yet another of those questions with an unexpected answer as if an answer to an unspoken question. “Do you WANT to be made well?” “I have no one to help me into the bubbling waters when the come.” Jesus asks a straightforward question, but the man answers with but an excuse.
I have always found this apparent miracle rather puzzling. And I have considered so many potential meanings of this encounter by the magical waters. First … was the man actually crippled in a physical way or was he crippled in his will to be whole and well? Second … what is with those “magical waters”? They have the mark of a local superstition rather than a manner by which God does the miraculous. Had these people allowed a living faith malingered into a belief in superstition and group hysteria? It all sounds like the Oracle of Delphi than a holy place of God. Third … with what tone did Jesus utter His question of the man? One tone would be compassionate for a crippled man. Another tone would be disappointment in this reliance of a superstition to heal him. Yet another tone might be … one of a challenging a man who was crippled more of mind and heart rather than of body. And when he was healed, was the healing one of a spiritual nature or a physical nature?
So many times in my work as a pastoral caregiver I have asked people in a number of ways …”Are you truly wanting to be healed? Are you willing to be open and to be open to changing? Are you will to come clean and then follow a new course? Are you willing to take responsibility in doing your part to be made well?”
As one reads the healing stories shared in the Gospels, one notes that often Christ first asks … “What is it you have need from me?” It is as though He is trying to teach us … the first step is to be willing to put into words what it is that you need. This is a principle that has proven itself over and over again, a million times over again.
So on this day … Christ is asking you … “Do you want to be made well?”
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. CHaritas de la Cruz