Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12
Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
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.
Good News Reflection: What needs healing most?
In scripture, flowing water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Thus, today’s first reading tells us that wherever the Holy Spirit flows, the people thrive and their faith multiplies and spreads. We need the flow of God’s Spirit in our lives to overcome stubborn sinful tendencies and to become distributors of true faith.
This is more important than the healing of our bodies. In the Gospel passage, Jesus connects healing to holiness: “You have been cured. Give up your sins so that something worse may not overtake you.” He is less concerned about the man’s physical well-being than he is about his spiritual health.
I could tell you many stories about miraculous healings that I’ve experienced or witnessed, but is this really what matters? Often, while focusing on our need for physical healings, we forget to ask the Holy Spirit to help us with our need for spiritual healings. We want easy cures, not the painful work of purification.
Often, physical ailments are the results of spiritual ailments. However, even when there is no direct correlation between sin and illness, we must always remember that the need for physical healing — while important — is a lesser priority than the healing of our souls. At the time of death, we will leave behind the illnesses of the flesh, but we will carry the ailments of our souls into eternity, thus requiring purgatory for the completion of our healing.
The more we work on developing our holiness here and now, the healthier our souls become. Observe the alternative: By requesting a physical miracle without giving up our sins, something worse overtakes us: Our souls deteriorate, our lives fall apart, and we live in misery and loneliness. We blame others for our ills and brood in self-pity (“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; someone else gets there before me.”)
Every Mass holds multiple opportunities for healing. The prayers, the scriptures, the community with whom we gather, and the Eucharistic presence of Jesus all provide healing. The cure begins when we identify our sins and seek forgiveness. It reaches the high point when we earnestly declare, “Lord! I am indeed not worthy, but say the word, say yes to my repentance, and my soul truly shall be healed!”
The Eucharist is a communion with the Body of Christ, which means it heals division and brokenness within the Body of Christ, which means that to experience unity with Christ we must first forgive those who have sinned against us.
Thus our souls are healed by the time Mass ends. Every Mass is a healing service. Every moment of Mass is an encounter with Jesus the Healer through the power of the Holy Spirit who helps us overcome our sinful tendencies and leads us deeper into holiness.
Jesus, today I want to ask You for the grace of every encounter with You in the Holy Eucharist to be a renewal of my friendship with You and one more step on my path to holiness. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica