Desire Holiness and Healing
March 24, 2020 (readings) Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that rivers of living water flow from within you. You are the source of my interior life, and I thank you for your life that you freely give to me. Lord, grant me the grace to see you as the source of living water, and to be grateful for all that you give me.
1. Oppressive Self-Pity: Jesus visited the pool of Bethesda specifically to seek out the poor and lame, because his heart is magnanimous and seeks to do good. At the pool he discovered a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years, a tough shake even for sturdy souls. Unfortunately, this man seemed to be focused only on himself. When Jesus approached asking, “Do you want to be well,” the man explained, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.” We can sometimes complicate our relationship with Jesus by making excuses, overexplaining, or rationalizing, instead of answering his invitation to become saints by saying simply, “Yes Lord, I want to do your will,” as life’s circumstances present themselves.
2. Desire: Healing: The ill man’s self-pity was coupled with a fearful ingratitude. After Jesus healed him, he was questioned by the Pharisees and he distanced himself from Jesus. He eventually revealed Jesus’s identity to the Pharisees as the one responsible for making him break the sabbath by carrying his mat. Jesus knew the man’s character. Yet, he saw the man’s desire to be healed, and that desire was enough for Jesus’s magnanimous heart to overflow with healing waters.
3. Desire: Holiness: Jesus told the man, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more.” He says the same to us every time we go to Confession. Christ wants a total conversion from us and the graces of Confession are what we need to sin no more. Jesus, grant us the desire for conversion and holiness!
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you know how I want to draw close to you—draw me in, more and more! Increase in me the fire of desire for holiness that you have already lit, and fan the flame with your love. Amen.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will exercise patience with someone I find difficult. I will listen to him or her sincerely.
For Further Reflection: Do you ever say an act of contrition outside of the confessional? It’s a good practice. There are many versions available or you can use your own words. Here’s one based on the Gospels:
Father of mercy, like the prodigal son I return to you and say: I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be called your child. Christ Jesus, Savior of the World, I pray with the repentant thief to whom you promised Paradise: Lord, remember me in your kingdom. Holy Spirit, the fountain of love, I call on you with trust: Purify my heart and help me to walk as a child of light.