There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
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.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. What a miracle! In this scene we can see how the healing waters of Bethesda foreshadow the healing powers found in the sacraments. There is true grace and healing that comes from the sacraments. May we use this time of Lent to receive them as much as possible so we may be strengthened in our own faith and healed of the wounds within us. Just like those in the reading who sought physical healing, we too are in need of healing in our own lives, whether that be physical, spiritual or emotional. In order to be healed, we must bring our wounds to the feet of Jesus.
The miraculous healings performed by Jesus are signs of the complete healing that takes place. God’s healing is always that of the whole person. The key element in this passage is when Jesus asks the man: “Do you want to be well?” We must open our hearts and dispose ourselves to the healing that Jesus wants to give or we cannot begin to receive it. This man had waited for a very long time but because of his patience and faith, he was ready to accept what Jesus wanted to freely give him.
When Jesus sees the man in the temple, He reminds him that he must go forth having been healed and sin no more. When we experience the healing power of God’s mercy, we must also make a firm promise not to fall back into our old ways and for this we rely on the healing transformation that has taken place, which is the strength of Christ. Our hope is in Christ who has come to heal us of all that prevents us from accepting His love. Today, in prayer, ask the Blessed Mother for the grace to have your heart opened so that you may be ready to receive the healing power of Jesus’s love into your soul.