Jesus, the Son of God, asks the man a simple question: “Do you want to be well?” If we didn’t know the story, we would anticipate this question to be followed by an emphatic, “YES!” and a response of gratitude. However, as we know, the man immediately launches into a response that encompasses complaint, difficulty, and his challenges—all of which are legitimate obstacles to his being healed, but none of which really answer Jesus’ original question.
This man’s biggest obstacle is his inability to articulate what he truly desires. Instead, he is wrought with self-pity and is unable to express adequately his wish to be made well.
Often we take our complaints and sufferings first to others in order to “vent” of our frustrations and acquire their sympathy. But, sometimes we have to stop and ask ourselves: Have I first taken these troubles to Jesus?
When you pray, be direct and intentional. Acknowledge in God’s presence the thoughts, feelings, and desires that are stirring within your heart, and name them. We develop a close relationship with God when we can intimately share what is on our heart—like a friend speaking to a friend. After you have revealed to God the thoughts of your heart, allow Him to speak to you. Embrace the silence and know how God looks upon you with love.
In the midst of this encounter in prayer, know that Jesus empowers us as he empowered the sick man—Jesus says to us: “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” We no longer have to be victims of our emotions, feelings, or the other struggles we bear. They may remain as the crosses we bear, but we do not have to be defined by them. Jesus looked upon this man not as someone who had been ill for thirty-eight years, but as who he truly is: a child of God.
Prayer for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
May the venerable exercises of holy devotion
shape the hearts of your faithful, O Lord,
to welcome worthily the Paschal Mystery
and proclaim the praises of your salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.