Jesus’s question and the paralyzed man’s answers are revealing. The man does not beg Jesus to heal him. Instead, Jesus goes to him and asks: “Do you want to be healed?” Quite a straightforward question that deserves a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer; but the man beats around the bush. He says, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed.” Really? For 38 long years, he lay there with no Plan B? Sometimes we get so used to our circumstances, however unwholesome, and the secondary benefits that accrue (in the form of pity, generous donations, free food and care, tax discounts, social security, etc.) come to be more attractive than the painful efforts to get well and take responsibility for our lives. Here is a familiar joke around psychologists: “How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?” “One. But the lightbulb must want to change.” Jesus would have none of the lame excuses we come up with to escape the holy boredom of living our daily life. He commands the paralytic to get on his feet, take up his mat, and walk into responsible freedom.
Jesus asks us the same question: “Do you really want to be healed?” What would such healing entail for you and me?
(Note: This reflection is a revised and updated version of the author’s own reflection for the same readings in the Bible Diary 2013 [Claretian Publications]. All rights reserved. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)