It’s a catch-22. A man, crippled for years, cannot enter into the healing pool because he isn’t well enough to reach the pool that can heal him. No one will help him. No one will lift a finger. He cannot save himself. This is his dilemma. This is our dilemma. Jesus solves the dilemma.
“Do you want to be well?” What a strange question from our Lord. After thirty-eight years of suffering, this man’s life remains undefined. A big question mark looms over him. Does he value himself? Does life have any meaning for him? His answer is a resounding excuse! Do I make excuses for myself? Using my past, my responsibilities or my disabilities as a constant excuse for mediocrity or worse, for sin?
It is a Saturday, Christ tells him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man got up and became well. He took his mat and walked away. The solution to this man - or any man’s problems - is to follow Christ’s instructions unconditionally. But, it’s the Sabbath! We’ve heard that before…But, I will get fired! I may lose my promotion! A bunch of wimps are we! We fear everyone and everything except the Lord since his unconditional love makes for our unconditional surrender!
Do you want to change? Do you really want to become better? Are you ready to take the necessary steps to change your life? Or have you already given up on yourself?
Once Jacques Fesch discovered the God of love and forgiveness, he never once gave up on life - not even his own, and not even after receiving the death sentence. Within the small confines of his prison cell, he began to live his life to a higher degree. He lived the life of a hermit, with greater austerity than the prison demanded. He found a way to substitute selfishness for selflessness, pride with humility, and regret with forgiveness. Through his letters he produced a wealth of spirituality that would evangelize those closest to him and untold generations of souls yet born and able to read. As the process for his beatification moves forward and the opposition intensifies and grows more vocal - some mockingly question if Jacques Fesch would become the patron saint of hand guns - the response of the Church is all too beautiful. No, he will not be the patron saint of hand guns, he will be the saint for those who despise themselves; those who think themselves beyond love.
“The Saint is first and foremost the one who renders constant thanks for having been loved and who never forgets the misery of once not having loved or let God love.” (Hans Von Balthasar)
Every time I tell this story to teenagers, I can personally see how their eyes swell up with tears. We all need a God who is willing to pull us out of our own misery and into his wonderful light! It is all for his glory!
Teenagers get it. I think many of us do too.
Do you want to take the necessary steps to change your life? Then, “Do whatever he says.” This command comes from Mary. It could easily have come from Christ but Mary intercedes for us and we must never forget that. Mary pleads on our behalf. Do whatever he says because only He has the words of everlasting life! The man who was ill was waiting for someone to help him. He was at the right place, at the right time but with the wrong idea. Only Christ can heal the lame, the crippled, the leper - the lost. Only Christ can reach me and heal me from the black hole that I find myself immersed in. Only He can do it, and only with my permission.
The question asked by Jesus is still asked by him today. Do you wish to be healed? Who would say “No!” Too many! Once upon a time there were these Pharisees, Scribes, Elders, Chief priests, Emperors and power hungry men…Today; we have the heads of states, the prideful, the vain and sensual.
It takes more than a change of heart to change. It takes an act of faith to change, and a will to change for good.