The Gospel Today
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
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.
The Gospel narrative today led me to reflect on this question: “Why did Jesus has to ask the sick man if he wanted to be well?” Obviously, the man was in need of healing. I tried remembering the other instances wherein Jesus performed healing. The well-known accounts are the healing of the blind man named Bartimaeus, who shouted many times “Son of David, have pity on me”, the hemorrhagic , who said to herself that “If I can only touch even the tassel of His cloak, then I will be healed”, and the synagogue official who pleaded to Jesus for his daughter’s life. Many more instances of healing were performed by Jesus and most of them have the commonality that the healing was solicited from Christ by the sick person or by somebody on their behalf. Thus, I was wondering why Jesus has to ask the person when the need for healing was self-evident. In my reflection, I believe that the other instances of healing that Jesus performed was actually initiated by God even though it may appears that the sick initiated the encounter by calling, approaching or touching Jesus. God made the first move by sending them the Holy Spirit that gave their heart faith in Jesus and the courage to approach Him for healing. In today’s Gospel, as Jesus approached and asked the sick man if the latter desired to be well, it only showed that God always takes the initiative in all good and loving works.
As I was reflecting I remember one monthly recollection, with a theme of “ Finding God in all things”, our recollection master, Fr. Vir emphasized that, while it seems that we are earnestly and eagerly looking for God but in reality it is actually God who looks for us and finds us first. And when He finds us, He offers us His abundant blessings. He comes to us even if we are not calling for Him and asking for His help. We are His utmost concern even though we are so concerned with the pursuit of our own cure in vain. In the weak moments of our life, Jesus comes to our midst to offer us His love and help. However, miracles only happen when we give our free response to His invitation. Our response is a necessary requirement for God’s grace to effect on us because God respects the freedom that He gave us. I realized that my response to the vocation to the priesthood was an important part in God’s plan for me. We must fully cooperate with God’s grace even if we are uncertain of the outcome or the place where God is leading us. We need to trust God if we really want to have changes in our life like healing from our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual sickness. Like the sick man, we have to follow what Jesus would tell us. He was told to pick up his mat and stand and that’s what he did. I examined myself, “do I have enough trust and faith in Jesus? Am I ready to follow what He tells me to do?” Though I can say that my decision to resign from my job and forgo my possessions and future plans required me to trust God greatly, I realized that it was only the beginning of not only trusting Him but also of doing His will. By entering the seminary, I thought that I finally found my God and my happiness. But I realized that it was He who found me first in the middle of the desert and draws me to Himself so I can find true peace and happiness.