From the Gospel according to John 5:1-3, 5-16
It was a day of celebration for the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There is in Jerusalem, near the door of the Sheep, a swimming pool, called in Hebrew Bethsaida, with five arcades, under which lay a large number of the sick, blind, lame and paralyzed.
There was a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. Seeing him lying down and knowing that he had been like this for a long time, he said to him: “Do you want to get well?” The sick man replied: “Sir, I have no one to immerse me in the swimming pool when the water stirs. In fact, while I am about to go there, some others come down before me”. Jesus said to him, “Get up, take your mat and walk.” And instantly the man recovered and, taking his mat, began to walk. But that day was a Saturday. So the Jews said to the healed man: “It is Saturday and it is not lawful for you to take up your mat.”
But he said to them, “He who healed me said to me: Take your mat and walk.” Then they asked him, “Who was it who said to you: ‘Take your mat and walk?’” But he who had been healed did not know who it was that healed him. In fact, Jesus had gone away, there being a crowd in that place.
Shortly afterwards, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him: “Here you are healed; do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” That man went away and told the Jews that Jesus had healed him. For this, the Jews began to persecute Jesus, because he did such things on the Sabbath.
How old are you? How long have you been paralyzed in sin? This sin is what reappears so often, and it seems to be undefeatable. In the Gospel of today, the paralytic was afflicted for “thirty-eight years,”
Even though it was a “Saturday,” it was still not a feast day for that man crushed on the mat because of his impotence, of his LIMITATION, which is not only HIS, but OUR incapacity to love!
Today we are paralyzed on the mat of COVID19. Yet, there is this time of Lent and quarantine, which gives us the CHIROS, the “opportune, favorable time”, to go deep and watch the “clip” of our life up to this moment. It could be just, “thirty-eight years,” maybe fifty, or just eighteen, or even eighty.
In the midst of this pandemic, this is where the clip starts. Someone has “seen” you, noticed you, and worried about you because “he knows you’ve been like this for a long time.” He knows there are some vices that you cannot get rid of. Jesus asks you, “Do you want to get well?” You are paralyzed, but that is not why you were born. The inability to approach the other and give yourself to him is a disease, but it CAN be cured.
Today, Jesus declares his love to you, triggering the desire for him within you. All the sudden, the whole past will be illuminated, and this is not what the devil tells us. This impotence and uncertainty that the coronavirus obliges us to live as if we were in a “screenshot” or a “movie” of our lives. The main characters of this movie are the LIES of the DEVIL and the LOVE of GOD. But GOD IS IN CHARGE, not the devil! Satan has been CONQUERED! All the evil in the world has been destroyed in the cross of JESUS CHRIST.
COURAGE DO NOT BE AFRAID! WE WILL NOT DIE FOREVER!
If God has always been there and has always loved me, how much more does he right now, will he tomorrow and for eternity? We can, therefore, look at our history from the same experience of the paralytic: if he had “someone to immerse him,” he would not have met the Lord. He wouldn’t have listened to his voice. Perhaps he would have dived in and he would have recovered. He would have found a job, a house, a boyfriend, a beautiful wedding, some health, or an adequate salary. He would not have lost his father as a child and experienced no violence. He would have studied and graduated. He would be a little nicer and more presentable. His family wouldn’t have been so poor. He wouldn’t have suffered underneath the shadow of his older brother. For thirty-eight years he would not have been crucified.
Yet, he would not have known the Lord. He would not have been happy. The cross, the mat where you have stretched your life so far, your whole HISTORY that seemed so gray and useless to you, with the frustrations, the loneliness, even our sins, practically everything, was to meet HIM, the “door” through which to enter and find the pasture of eternal life. The mat consumed by the worms of JUDGEMENT , ENVY, LUST, and every sin, is the mat prepared for God’s mercy.
Human failure, in fact, is the courtship of Jesus toward us: to overcome pride and resistance and to recognize that we are paralyzed because we believed in the devil who crushed us in fear and convinced us that we ARE NOT LOVED.
Remember, brothers and sisters, that Jesus is the POOL in whom it is not necessary for someone to submerge us. His DEATH and RESURRECTION is the CURE for us. “Rise. Take up your mat and walk.” Jesus heals us to “start walking” in a new life, in a path of daily conversion to “NEVER SIN AGAIN.”
God bless you,