We read today from John’s gospel about the healing of the paralyzed man at the pool at Bethesda (John 5,1-18). Compare him with the official in our previous story who came from Capernaum to Cana looking for a cure for his son. The official was obviously an important man who knew how to get things done. He came to get Jesus to heal his son. He’s resourceful.
The paralytic at Bethesda, on the other hand, is utterly resourceless. For 38 years he’s come to a healing pool– archeologists identify its location near the present church of St. Anne in Jerusalem– and he can’t find a way into the water when it’s stirring. Paralyzed, too slow, he can’t even get anybody to help him. He doesn’t approach Jesus; Jesus approaches him, asking: “Do you want to be well?”
Instead of lowering him into the water, Jesus cures the paralyzed man directly and tells him to take up the mat he was lying on and walk. The man has no idea who cured him until Jesus tells him later in the temple area. He’s slow in more ways than one.
“God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in this world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God,” St. Paul tells the Corinthians.
Here’s one of the weak, the lowly, the nobodies God chooses, and he wont be the last. The mystics saw weakness differently that most do. It’s a time God acts, St. Paul of the Cross says:
“Be of good heart, my good friend, for the time has come for you to be cured. Night will be as illumined as day. As his night, so is his day. A great difference takes place in the Presence of God; rejoice in this Divine Presence. Have nothing, my dear one; allow yourself to be deprived of all pleasure. Do not look your sufferings in the face, but accept them with resignation and satisfaction in the higher part of your soul as if they were jewels, and so they truly are. Ah! let your loving soul be freed from all that is created and pay no attention to suffering or to enjoyment, but give your attention to your beloved Good. (Letter 41)
like the paralytic I wait for you,
not knowing when or how you will come.
But I wait, O Lord,
however long you may be.
As I read the Gospel today I somehow identified with the paralyzed man. Maybe when he first started going to the pool of Bethesda he had hope. But as time went by he saw that it was really hard because everyone that went there was out for themselves. Nobody offered to help him, so he got used to his life.
Now here comes Jesus 38 years later and offers help and gives it without being asked. I’m not sure how thankful the man was. Change is very difficult. Now he had to worry about working and following the rules. No more sinning! Jesus said to him. Keep safe!
The changes we’re going through right now are so hard. It’s easy to get depressed and feel sorry for ourselves. But like St Paul of the Cross said we have to let go of our sadness, fears, joys, sufferings and just lie in the bosom of our Lord and give all to Him.
Yes, my God I want to leave all to You and no one else. Only You my Savior, only You!!!
You have it right, Berta
I noted that Jesus did not wait for the “stirring of the waters” but invited the man to get up now. How often I might be waiting around for a sure sign before I take action. Calling on Christ to carry me through the difficultly is my best way to get help. Of course, that help often does come from other people who offer a helping hand. I’ve noticed a greater amount of kindness in simple ways during this pandemic. Holding the door for the next person going into the store, letting someone pass in the narrow supermarket aisle, picking up my glove that didn’t make it into my pocket when I took it off. Has this virus brought out large and small goodness in us? I say YES.