“Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids, blind, lame and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’”
Jesus, the Healer
Perhaps at times, like me, you have questioned the value or importance to God of your personal well-being or of your health in body, mind, or spirit. You’ve found yourself unable to believe that the love of God could include you.
-Br. Jonathan Maury
This week as we meet Jesus in John’s Gospel we reflect on the Word made flesh who lived and lives among us. Today our focus is on the Word made flesh in the person of Jesus, the healer. Perhaps at times, like me, you have questioned the value or importance to God of your personal well-being or of your health in body, mind, or spirit. You’ve found yourself unable to believe that the love of God could include you and the fullness of your being as important as anything else in the world.
In a life-long struggle with clinical depression, I found myself at many stages finding this feeling and turning away from God. From adolescent resignation to the feelings as being just part of human existence to later frightening and destructive thoughts and actions, I have at times lost a sense of God’s love for me. Yet, we have before us today the story of the man at the pool of Bethzatha. This has become a touchstone for me, a touchstone of a means by which I gradually and gratefully accept the compassion and love of Jesus to heal me, to heal me as I need in any given moment and time in my life and in my illness.
It amazes me that Jesus – in hearing a litany of complaint and hopelessness from the man to his question “Do you wish to be healed?” – can hear deep inside this a feeble desire for that healing, a hope for that healing. Jesus does bring about his physical healing to that man who walks again. Now, the same man is later confronted by the religious authorities and fears the consequences to himself of Jesus’ loving action toward him and so he betrays Jesus to those authorities. But this does not negate the freely-given, sacrificially-given love of God and Jesus for this man’s healing and wholeness. That love, that sacrifice, now abide in this man to be renewed in the future, to be renewed for his continued healing, his wholeness in body, mind, and spirit and his well-being of soul at just the right time for him.
I bid you today to pray with me to remember those instances in which you have perhaps been reluctant to accept or even refused the loving kindness of God for healing that Jesus has come to you to offer. Then turn gratefully and vulnerably toward that Jesus who offers that loving kindness to us in ways beyond our imagining – to us and to others around us, and through those others around us to us as well. Live in the gratitude and knowledge of Jesus’ continuing love for us, that the Word made flesh indeed dwells in our flesh, continually healing, forgiving, restoring us to well-being at each moment along the way just as we have need – not as we may believe we have need, but as we truly have need. Then offer your gratitude and loving kindness back to God for this gift of healing in Jesus’ life.