Jesus is offering us a challenging choice…
Transcript of the podcast above:
Yesterday we reflected on our need for healing and in today’s gospel Jesus heals another suffering person whose illness had lasted almost four decades.
It’s easy to give these scripture passages a superficial glance since we know the accounts well. But a closer reading with open mind and receptive heart always pays off.
When we come to the scriptures expecting Jesus to speak directly to us we will hear what we need to hear and will often be amazed that the insight we receive has not occurred to us in the hundred earlier readings of the same passage.
This has happened for me with today’s gospel. I was deeply moved by words of Jesus that I have never really noticed before.
The paralysed man, unable to move without assistance, was lying alongside the pool in Jerusalem known to contain healing waters. But his infirmity made it impossible for him to get to the pool when the healing waters stirred. Jesus notices him and asks a surprising question of the man: “Do you want to be well again?”
“Do you want to be well again?”
You would expect that any sick person would want to be healed, but Jesus understood that even unwelcome, painful and harmful realities can become attachments, burdens that we hold on to, comfortable with the devil we know even though our freedom is being suffocated and our healing is blocked.
We know that holding on to anger and lack of forgiveness affects our mood and our emotional and physical health, but asked if we would rather be free of these burdens too many of us prefer the darkness to the light. This is the problem. We are offered everything, all we need, all we desire, all we hope for, but we prefer to hold onto what is familiar even if it is limited and unsatisfying.
Jesus never imposes his presence in our lives but patiently waits offering the divine hand of healing and mercy, the embrace of love. In our human relationships we know this to be the mark of love, not a powerful imposition and unwanted and unrequested help, but a presence offered by love.
This is why we need to express our desire for God, while being honest about the attachments that might limit the enthusiasm of our desire. But a little desire is enough.
When we set our priorities in other places, projects and relationships, Jesus will patiently wait until we are ready to ask. If we are healthy this point comes, the moment when we realise that there must be more to life, more than we can achieve or accumulate. We realise that we are made for
There comes a point where we realise that the variety of sicknesses that we have chosen for our steady diet, (well summarised as the isms of legalism, moralism, commercialism, capitalism…) will never bring us the life we seek.
And when God offers us the opportunity of freedom and life in abundance we are hesitant. It reminds me of the monkey trap: