There are so many ways we can be sick — physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, we even use the word to refer to being fed up with something.
Most people do not wish to or like to be sick. As a mother, I am often heard saying, “I don’t have time to be sick.” As a “germophobe”, I probably take my dislike for being ‘out of commission’ with any type of illness to a whole new level. Some have even implied my fear teeters on one of those other ways of being sick. The irony is, for a very long period of my life, I would have welcomed illness because it gave me a valid excuse to give into my insecurities and fears. I would have happily taken a day or two on the couch with my tissues, soup and favorite book, instead of facing the world. Sick was sometimes convenient and sometimes comforting because nothing was expected of me in that condition.
It would seem obvious that the man in today’s Gospel did not wish to remain unwell, if he was laying so close to this place that promised him healing. Though, he does seem to have a few excuses as why he hasn’t taken advantage of this cure for the last 38 years. As I contemplated why he had not simply asked another to person to help him or devised a way to get in a better position for receiving the healing, I thought of that fearful time in my life. That time when change seemed almost as overwhelming and scary as remaining in my current condition. I remembered how my pride prevented me from reaching out to anyone for help, not wanting to blow my ‘I have it altogether’ image.
How hard it can be to enlist another person’s assistance, especially when it means admitting — out loud — that you cannot help yourself. How frightening this step can be, especially when you wonder if you’ll be turned down or disappointed by that person after you have muster the strength to ask. Will they, like Jesus, be willing to risk everything, to be God’s instrument of saving grace?
When I finally hit that point I knew it was time to be well, the very first person I turned to was Jesus. I returned to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist (both in the Liturgy and in Adoration). I felt Him ask me this same question, “Do you want to be well?” Answering “yes”, came with the recognition that the healing was coming from Him (in whatever form He choose to send it) and made it possible to finally accept it.
“Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.”