Homily for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
As I was preparing for this morning’s homily, I found myself really drawn to this encounter that Jesus has with this man sitting by the pool who had been ill for 38 years. The question I keep finding myself asking is: what was it about this man that grabbed Jesus’ attention? Why did He pick this guy?
Think about it this way, this man wasn’t the only one who was sick sitting around the pool. There were a large number of others who had infirmities of all types sitting around him. Each one of them was in need of some kind of healing, was in need of God’s love and compassion. So, why this guy?
I tend to believe that Jesus chose this man because of the length of the man’s illness compared to those who were around him. 38 years is a long time to be suffering. By this point, the man was likely used to his illness and probably despaired for not being able to overcome it. Jesus knew that a healing would change his life. But that raises even more questions. Did the sick man have the courage, after all this time, to again become an active member of society? Did he have faith in the power of Jesus to heal him? I think this might be the reason why Christ asked: “Do you want to be well?”
Jesus asks us that same question today. But for us, it isn’t about a physical ailment; He isn’t directing that question toward a bodily illness. Instead, He’s asking us if we want to be made well from the illness of our sin. Just like the man who was ill for 38 years, God wants to heal us of the spiritual illnesses that we have grown accustomed to. The good news is that the healing and grace that God wants to give us is so readily available. We just have to cooperate with that grace.
At some point before Easter, I would encourage all of us to go to confession – we have the opportunity this afternoon at 4 and this evening at 7. We’ll also have some expanded confession times in the days leading up to the Triduum. The Lord wants to encounter us there like He encountered the man in today’s Gospel. Don’t be afraid of that encounter. Jesus sees each of us and knows our whole story—He knows every intimate detail of our lives. When we seek him, we can be confident, whether we feel his presence or not, that he is blessing us with all the graces that we need. He desires to heal us of our deepest pain and suffering. When He asks us if we desire to be healed, may we respond, “Yes, Lord. Please, heal me.”