Charles Shultz, creator of the Peanuts cartoons, once had Lucy observing, “life is like a deck chair.” “Like a what?” asks Charlie. She replies, “Haven’t you ever been on a cruise ship, Charlie? Passengers open the deck chairs so they can sit in the sun. Some, facing the rear of the ship so they can see where they’ve been, and others forward to see where they’re going. On the cruise ship of life, Charlie, which way is your deck chair facing?” Charlie thinks for a moment and replies: “Gee, I’ve never been able to get one unfolded.”
Today, the Gospel presents a Charlie from the first century, a man who for 38 years lay by the pool of life, unable to unfold his life’s knots. One day a stranger picks his way through the crowds of people waiting to be healed when the healing waters of Bethesda stir. Standing next to him, the stranger asks what seems like an insensitive question, “Do you want to be well?”
We can imagine the flash of thoughts that might have gone through this man’s mind. “Do I want to be well? Why else would I be lying next to this pool for 38 years? Of course, I want to get well!” Why then did Jesus ask him that question?
Perhaps the man at the pool was stuck by a single healing strategy: he associated healing with bubbles in the stirred-up water and his lack of a friend after 38 years. So, maybe he was recruiting Jesus when he said, “I have no one to help me into the pool.” But Jesus was not interested in the bubbles. He was interested in the complete wellness of the person. So, Jesus said, “Rise, take up your mat and walk.” And the man rose and walked with the power Jesus gave him.
Lord Jesus, You can single us out in the crowd. You know our helplessness: our habits, our addictions, our inability to forgive or love, our deeply embedded resentments. You know where we are stuck. We can hear you ask, “Do you want to be well?” Help us say, “Yes, Lord, I want to be healed, and I am willing. Walk into our lives, into our life situations. Touch our minds and hearts. Let us hear Your words, “Rise, stand on your feet, cut off ties with the past, and walk into the new life of Easter.” Amen.
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About Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C.
Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C. is from the Northeast India Province of Holy Cross. A native of Kerala, Father Jilson has been serving in a parish and school ministry since his ordination twelve years ago. He joins the Family Rosary team as an Assistant, while he works to study Pastoral Counseling in the Boston area. With a personal devotion to Mother Mary, Father Jilson is thrilled to be working to enhance family prayer through the Rosary. And if you ever need a listening ear or want to play a board game, Father Jilson’s your guy!