Tag Archives: mystics

Tuesday, 4th Week of Lent

Lent 1

Our readings from John’s gospel continue today with 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. He knew how to get things done and came to get Jesus to do something for him. He’s resourceful.

The paralytic at Bethesda, on the other hand, seems 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 say it that way:

“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)

Lord Jesus,
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.

Speak, Lord, Your Servants are Listening

In times like this we should listen to the voice of the mystics in our church. They speak in troubled times.

Among the mystics I count the writers of scripture, Luke and Paul, who speak in our readings at Mass these days and see things from a higher perspective than we do. Be careful of human wisdom, Paul says today to the Corinthians enmeshed in the politics and personalities of their church:

“So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.”

Luke’s gospel today (Luke 5, 1-11) describes the fishermen on the lake, Cephas among them, who have come from fishing all night and caught nothing. The One from Nazareth, no fisherman at all, tells them to cast their nets for a catch.

Wisely, they defer to him and their human wisdom is replaced by the power of God.

I think too of Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena, mystics of their day, whose vivid perception of the powerful presence of God in their meditations and prayers reminded the leaders and people of their church to listen to their Lord.

Prayer and listening to God’s word are not small gestures today. We’re like the Corinthians and the fishermen by the lake. We need to listen to the Lord who speaks to us. We get so caught up in the wisdom of the day.