Saint for the day: Catharine of Bologna (1413 – 1463)
Ezra 47:1-9, 12 – Psalm 46 – John 5:1-16
“What do you want?”
If we could hear God/Jesus asking us this question, what would our answer be? Think about it.
One of the perks that we have in the season of Lent is that the Church picks the Scripture readings along the lines of “themes” rather than going sequentially through different books of the Bible.
So, today we hear the Gospel of the paralytic who has been waiting for a miraculous cure from the stirred waters for 38 years. To support this Gospel – and to tie it into the Old Testament – our first Scripture reading from Ezekiel gives us a picture of the “healing waters” that flow out of the Temple – in all directions, and causing healing and health to all that it touches.
Yet, even with this picture so clearly painted for us Jesus still asks us the question, “Do you want to be healed?” Our answer might be a curt, “Of course! Why do you think I’m here?” This man in this story is like us in so many ways and he has gotten used to being carried – every day – to this same place. And he has let his infirmity become his ticket to a life of begging. He is like so many of the people who stand every day on busy corner of an intersection begging. Once, I tried to help an old man who wandered up and down the highway with a story of his need to get to a Veterans Hospital to get his teeth fixed. I let him stay in the Church Hall overnight and brought him a little breakfast in the morning. When I handed the food to him I said, “There is someone here in the parish who works with the Veterans Administration who can get the help you need.” Even before I finished he refused the food that I was offering and said, “That’s OK. I’ll just be on my way.”
We have to want to be healed and we have to be willing to let go of those things that we have become used to having as our “crutches.”
There is healing water flowing out from the Temple (hear we should read: from the resurrected body of Jesus) and we need to come to that water.
The man is this Gospel obviously had friends who carried him to the edge of the water and then left him there. Why didn’t they stay around until the “waters got stirred?”
I think the answer is obvious: friends can bring us to Jesus but I have to want to be healed. Jesus is still asking that question: “Do you want to be healed?”