The Pool of Bethesda

28 March 2006: Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
John 5, 1-16: Healing at the Pool of Bethesda

The pool of Bethesda lies on the north side of the temple. It is a gathering place for the sick. They believe that an angel stirs the pool, and the first one to get there will be healed. The man was sick for thirty-eight years, and when Jesus asked if he wants to get healed, he evasively answered by blaming his condition on the fact that he could never get to the pool. Nevertheless, Jesus heals the man by saying, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” After being healed, the Jewish authorities asked the man why he violated the Sabbath. Again he blamed it on Jesus, the one who healed him. Thus, the man implicated Jesus and thus the religious authorities sought to kill Jesus with a two-fold charge: sabbath violation and blasphemy. The man was totally ungrateful to the one who has given him new life.

On close examination of our lives, we are not far from the character of the man at the pool of Bethesda. There are many times when we deny the goodness of the Lord, or do not give proper acknowledgement to the source of our fortune. Let us have a little quiz:

1. When we taste success, which comes first: a) the victory celebration or b) the eucharistic celebration?

2. When we are asked to share our talents, what question comes first: a) What can I get from this? or b) What can I contribute?

3. When you know you have stolen money from the pocket of your parent, and you are asked by them, what do you do say, a) No, I did not! or b) Yes, I am sorry.

4. When you know that the way your barkada thinks or does, is not proper for a Christian or a Catholic for that matter, what would you do: a) keep quiet and agree with them even if you don’t? or b) tell them what you believe even if your acceptance to the group is at stake?

5. When given a responsibility, and you have failed, what do you usually say: a) hindi kasi ako tinulungan ng mga tao, or b) nagkulang ako?

If you chose many a’s, then you are like the man at the pool. If you chose b’s, then you are close to be a good Christian.

However, we know there are other moments when we would rather protect ourselves or keep our unrealistic image of ourselves, by blaming others or the condition we are in. How many times we have blamed our parents or our past, for the things we do not have? For example, in UP, there are people who are far better than us, who do not study but still get higher scores; or people who are liked by others because they are handsome or beautiful, while we look very native. And we would like to be like them. However, we can’t because of givens in our lives: genes (our parents simply look --- you know), education (we came from schools that do not have facilities), economic standing (we are simply lower middle class), etc. But, we forget that we PASSED the University of the Philippines. And thus, we have all it takes to graduate from here. And if we simply begin to accept what we are and proceed from there, maybe we will gain more friends.

When we are faced by such insecurities, then, Jesus’ question to the man at the pool of Bethesda becomes relevant: “Do you want to be well?” If Jesus asked you that question, what part of you needs great healing? Let us reflect on this especially during this season of Lent.

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