Week of Christmas 2, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 121, 122, 123 (morning) // 131, 132 (evening)
Jesus has an incredible bedside manner with those in need of healing. He offers his power to the powerless, his compassion to the rejected, and, in today’s gospel, his words of challenge to the defeated. Jesus treats every case differently, knowing exactly what that person needs in order to experience the growth, freedom, and healing that God desires for them.
Today’s patient needs a dose of both compassion and firmness. For thirty-eight years, this man has been lying on his mat, waiting for his chance to get into a local pool with allegedly healing properties. Jesus approaches him as if to make a diagnosis, but his words are anything but routine.
The first question to the man is this: “Do you want to be made well?” Instead of answering the question, the sick man starts explaining why he isn’t well yet. For example, “I have no one to put me into the pool.” Also, “while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” In conjunction, these two excuses reveal a rather sad experience of other people. In this man’s life, people are both absent when he needs their help, and obstacles when he needs them out of the way.
For those who’ve been both abandoned and impeded by others, there’s only one solution. Jesus gives this man his prescription: “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” The man instantly picks up his mat and starts to walk.
The man in today’s gospel had lost his sense of desire to be well and his sense of power to stand on his own two feet, let alone walk. Many people have been failed or hindered by other people; the only way forward is to rediscover our own desire and power. That’s the healing presence of Jesus, working in a way particular to each of us, that we can seek and strive to offer today.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Image: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons