In this Sunday’s Gospel, the evangelist John precisely locates the described event: “at the Sheep a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda”. This place was discovered in the 19th century near the present church of St. Anna.

The paralytic man had been at the pool for many years, 38 to be exact, waiting for it to be stirred by “an angel of the Lord” and then to dive into it quickly. The tradition was that the first to enter the pool after stirring was healed. This poor man had no one to help him be the first, so 38 years went by of frustration and powerlessness. These long, fruitless years may have also paralyzed his spirit. 

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Jesus shows up and asks him: “Do you want to be healed?” Of course, he does. This approach gives the man hope, as someone has recognized him. The paralytic goes into an explanation, but Jesus knows all this and accepts the man without explaining. Once again, as in all of His ministry, Jesus reaches out to someone, as He does to the prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors, and all those rejected and scorned by society. 

The healing is quickly overshadowed by legal concerns. By healing the paralytic and instructing him to pick up his bed, Jesus performs one of the specifically prohibited acts on the Sabbath. The lawmakers have no concern that the man had been healed, but that he broke a law.

In curing the paralytic, Jesus exercises a power that is exclusive to God. The Law of Moses made Saturday a weekly day of rest. The religious authorities at the time regarded it as a form of imitating God’s rest after creating the world. However, Jesus tells us that God does not stop acting after his initial work of creation. By curing the man on the Sabbath, Jesus affirms that His Father is always working in the world. Jesus is revealing to us that His nature is divine and that on this Sabbath day, He is showing the action of God and God’s unceasing, ever-pouring concern for mankind. 

Is there a lesson from today’s Gospel from John? Quite simply, if one’s life is not going the way one thought or imagined it would go, look for Jesus. Inherently, His Resurrection is linked to the dignity, value, and worth of each person and his concern for all illnesses physical, psychological, and spiritual. Prayer and coming to Liturgy where one can be immersed and take time out are solid ways. Praying for healing for oneself is a natural and instinctive action expressing a deep desire for harmony. 

Jesus never said, “I’m not going to heal you because you are harboring unconfessed sin, or because you did this to yourself by not managing stress and not eating properly, or because it won’t do you any good in the long run.”  He simply gave sick people a new beginning, without judgment or scorn, treating them with dignity and respect. He did his healing and let them go and get on with their lives – without kickback, except by saying: “Go and sin no more; you have seen the way.”

So in our life, it is important to go beyond ourselves, ask Christ for help, seek His help, and not be paralyzed in thought. Jesus is open to giving us life, not limiting it, as we often do ourselves. Actually, the paralytic from today’s Gospel is a vivid example of hope and renewed life with Christ, which can also be ours.