24 March 2020
Tuesday of the 4th Week of Lent
Today’s gospel recounts Jesus’ curing of the paralyzed man who had been unable to walk for thirty-eight years. Jesus finds the man helpless and waiting for someone to place him in the waters of Bethesda, after they were stirred-up, in the hopes he would be the first into the pool to possibly be healed. Jesus comes to the man’s aid – but not in the way he expects. Jesus does not place the paralyzed man in the pool as he was hoping, but Our Lord who is the Living Water commands the man to stand up, get his mat, and walk. It is not upon the faith of the man that is he healed, but he is healed solely upon Jesus’ Word in union with the Father’s Will. Jesus later finds the man in the temple, presumably giving thanks to God, and tells him “look, you are well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” (Jn 5:14) Jesus guides the man to see that his true need was far deeper than not being physically free to walk – but involved a spiritual and invisible need – the forgiveness of his sins to walk in the freedom of God. The health of our immortal soul is far more important than physical health.
Sometimes we may become a bit lax in our spiritual lives or lose sight of the most fundamental and important things. Understandably, physical ailments and being reminded at times like these of our vulnerability can really scream for our attention and ultimate focus if we allow them. Jesus is always coming to us in our need through the occurrences of the day to meet us and guide us to the proper context of life as Christians in Him. During this season of Lent, we accompany those preparing for Baptism, by re-examining our lives in light of our baptismal promises. How well does our life confess our renunciation of Satan and sin, our faith in the triune God, and life in His Church? Just as the paralyzed man was focused on the healing of his physical ailment but was given a deeper cure for His illness by Jesus the Living Water, we too can be distracted or fixated and think our health or happiness can only be found in the healing of this illness or in having some new thing or experience. Baptism begins in us the life of grace, not a single moment of grace, but a way of life that is active and intentional. Jesus desires to continually come to us in our need to heal us of sin and open us to the fullness of life in Him.
We are each the paralyzed man in some way – vulnerable and unable to help ourselves even though we may think we know exactly what we need. Today in prayer, recognize that like the paralyzed man what you think is your need may not really be your need and require the healing you have in mind. Be vulnerable and give the Lord silence in prayer so that you may be open to an encounter with Him. Have you lost in some way your focus on Jesus in the life of faith and have no longer spiritually walked after Him? Have you denied Him in the life of grace through some new sin or a sin of the past that you’ve given yourself over to again? Now acknowledge to Jesus what He had led you to see as your deeper ailment and hear the words of life He desires to speak to you. Now move forward in trust of the power of Jesus’ words to the paralyzed man who got up and walked, that the words He spoke you to are indeed life-giving. Give praise and thanks to God. Go and do not sin again. – Brian McCauley
Let us Pray,
May the venerable exercises of holy devotion
shape the hearts of your faithful, O Lord,
to welcome worthily the Paschal Mystery
and proclaim the praises of your salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.