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 Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 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 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 any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
A Chicago Jesuit told me about a homeless man who was afraid of the future. He was not afraid of homelessness; rather, he was afraid that he might one day get off the streets. He knew what it was to be homeless, but he could not even think of a different way of life.
Imagine! Thirty-eight years crippled by the side of the Pool of Bethesda. How often the man from the gospel must have seen people step into the water and come out changed. How often he was envious of their healing. How often he recoiled in fear at the thought of being first into the water, emerging changed forever. How often he lied to others, but not to himself, that no one would help him and so he could not be healed.
After Christ heals him, it is as if the crippled man needs to be informed that he is healed. Christ draws his attention to the healing change in his life that he seems to avoid accepting. Like the homeless man, it is as if he cannot face this new way of living. Christ tells him and us, that we must accept the healing in our lives or something worse may yet come.
How does Christ come to find me today to tell me I am healed? In what areas of my life am I resistant to accepting God’s healing touch?
—Cyril Pinchak, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching English at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, Detroit MI. He is also a published poet.
Oh let all you thirst, let them come to the water. And let all who have nothing, let them come to the Lord: without money, without price. Why should pay the price, except for the Lord?
—© John B. Foley, S.J. and New Dawn Music