Thirty eight long years
Tuesday Week Four
Reading: John 5: 1-3 5-16
After this there was a festival of the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethzatha, which has five porticos. One man was there who had been ill for thirty eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there for a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me. Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Now that day was a Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.’ But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.” They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Take it up and walk”?’ Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Reflection Jesus has gone to celebrate at a festival in Jerusalem, the city where salvation would later come to fulfilment. People gathered by the Sheep Gate at the pool called in Hebrew Bethzatha hoping for the salvation of their sicknesses. Ever alert to the needs of others, Jesus identified a distressed man who had been ill for thirty eight years and enters into an intimate, compassionate dialogue with him. Unaware of who Jesus is, he cries out for help and shares his the burden with him. Jesus asks him directly, “do you want to be well again?” Jesus does not impose healing or contrition upon him, he leaves him free about he wishes to make. In so doing, he respects his dignity and free will. The man names his difficulty and Jesus does not hesitate to heal him. The man was set free from his disability and walks away.
Blinded by narrow minded interpretation of law, the Pharisees wish to condemn Jesus for his actions. However, Jesus always wishes to bring healing and wholeness to people. He later meets and reminds the man that it is essential for him to remain free from sin or something worse could happen to him. Failure to remain free from sin could lead to perdition for anyone.
I am invited to reflect on many aspects of this message; what is the blindness from which I suffer or the paralysis that I carry? Are there old wounds or sins in my life that need healing? Do I cry out to Jesus and ask him for healing trusting that he wishes to make me whole in every area of my life? What blocks me from approaching him and asking him to place me in the pool of his healing love?
We are also called to reflect on the social sin in our society and to ask God’s cleansing on the many attitudes that separate people from God; political corruption, ethnic cleansing, racial and religious intolerance, sexual impropriety. God wishes all people to be made whole and ‘not sin again or something worse may happen to you.’
Lord, I thank you for the many times that you have asked me,
‘what do you want me to do for you?’
Thank you for placing me into the pool of your divine love and mercy.
Thank you for healing my body, mind and spirit;
Thank you for drawing me closer to you.
May I never fail to thank You.
May I never place myself at risk of perdition.
In your great mercy, hear my prayer, O Lord, Amen.