Today’s Gospel: John 5:1-16
A friend recently shared with me that she is feeling overwhelmed in her life. As a wife, a mom and a professional, she is surrounded by people who need her time, attention, energy and compassion. A giving person by nature, she struggles to keep up with the demands placed upon her and increasingly feels pulled towards despair because of her inability to “fix” or to respond to each of the people who asks her for help. Increasingly, she is unable to focus on the good she does each day because she knows that she will never be able to “do it all”.
I thought of my friend today when I read this Gospel passage from John 5. A few years ago, I was blessed to take a trip to Jerusalem and to the pools of Bethesda where Jesus — anonymously as we read — healed a man who had been crippled for 38 years. The man shared with Jesus that he had waited there, day after day, without a friend or loved on to help into the pool for a healing. With just a few words, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk”, physical healing came to this man. Jesus didn’t give his name or his bio or wait around for the good deed to be reciprocated. He simply acted with compassion. Additional healing — of the spiritual variety — came for this poor man in the end of the reading when he again ran into Jesus. This time, healing came in the form of a teaching: “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
Jesus could have healed every person at the pools of Bethesda, and indeed every ill or hurting person in Jerusalem that day. Surely, knowing his great love, he was sorely tempted to “fix” all of the problems just as my friend would like to do. But Jesus came for a greater purpose than the healing of our bodies. He came for the salvation of our souls. Just as he taught the healed man to rise, to walk, and to “sin no more”, he has healed each of us with his teachings. We may continue to struggle with physical or emotional infirmities. Even more so, we may be challenged to witness the great pain of those around us while we stand nearby, unable to do anything but to pray for them. In the gospels, we have a prescription for greater healing and for ultimate joy. Our human nature may tempt us to dwell on the unanswered prayers, but every day, in millions of ways, we witness God’s bountiful love for us.
Lord, my savior and healer, you came to teach me to better care for, love and serve those around me. Help me today to rise, to walk, and to act in a way that leads me and those around me closer to you, to perfect healing of our souls. Thank you for prayers answered, even the ones that have been answered beyond my ability to comprehend. I entrust the worries of my heart into your perfect embrace today and always.
Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey