“Do you want to be well?”
These are the words Jesus asks the sick man of 38 years laying by the pool called Bethesda in our Gospel reading today (John 5:1-16). “Do you want to be well?” It almost seems like a mocking question. Of course! Who wouldn't want to be well, to be healed? Yet the sick man's response is telling: “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.” His answer seems legitimate, but maybe there's something deeper going on here. Perhaps this sick man is making a lame, sorry excuse. Perhaps he has become accustomed to his lifestyle and prefers not to change, knowing that a new way of living will bring a new set of challenges and difficulties, so it's easier to remain where he is.
Jesus poses the same question to us: “Do you want to be well? Do you want to be healed?” Bishop Robert Barron makes the point that Jesus seeks physical and spiritual healing. He states, “Much of Jesus' ministry consisted in teaching people how to see (the kingdom of God), how to hear (the voice of the Spirit), how to walk (thereby overcoming the paralysis of the heart), how to be free of themselves so as to discover God.” All of this is what Jesus wants for our lives, and so He asks us, “Do you want to be well?” Again, the answer may seem to be an obvious “yes,” but again, don't we often make similar excuses? “I'll get around to it tomorrow,” “There are so many other things going on in my life right now,” “I just don't have time for it.” Like the sick man, we too sometimes provide lame and sorry excuses from blocking the healing power of God into our lives. This may be because we are afraid of how Christ may change our lives; we may be comfortable where we are and don't want radical transformation in our lives.
This is where we are invited to trust Jesus Christ more deeply: trust that the transformation He will bring into our lives will make us well; trust that His transformation of us will make our lives better (although that doesn't mean easier). May we not wait 38 years as the sick man in the Gospel passage did. Instead, may today be the day we commit ourselves more fully to Christ and allow Him to make us well.
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit by St. Bonaventure
Lord Jesus, as God's Spirit came down and rested upon you, may the same Spirit rest upon us, bestowing his sevenfold gifts. First, grant us the gift of understanding, by which your precepts may enlighten our minds. Second, grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness. Third, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the enemy's attacks. Fourth, grant us knowledge, by which we can distinguish good from evil. Fifth, grant us piety, by which we may acquire compassionate hearts. Sixth, grant us fear of the Lord, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good. Seventh, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love. Amen.