Do You Want To Be Healed?
Jesus saw a paralyzed man suffering and sick for 38 years, so He asked, “Do you want to be made well?”
Think about that question? “Do you want to be made well?” After 38 years of sickness and suffering, how ridiculous is it to ask someone, “Do you want to be made well?” It sounds quite strange for Jesus to ask someone who has suffered for so long, and yet, did the man truly want to be healed? In other words, did the man want change in his life after so many years? After living a particular way for 38 years, did he even believe that change could happen? And if so, was he ready to go along with all that it meant to be healed?
When Jesus healed someone physically, he never left it at simply a physical healing. To one paralyzed man, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” To another, he said, “Go and sin no more.” Or he told someone else who was healed, “Go and tell others what God has done for you.” Jesus expected something from the people he healed. He wanted them to enter into a new life, a new relationship with Him, a new way of living.
Thus, understanding the expectations, maybe it isn’t so strange for Jesus to ask, “Do you want to be made well?” Think about it. How many of us have certain habits and ways and aspects of our life that we have gotten so used to, that we really aren’t willing to change. We’ve gotten used to a certain way of life and don’t want Christ to disturb us.
We need to realize that whenever we turn to God for help, whenever we seek after any type of healing from Him, we need to remember that Jesus is the Great Physician of our bodies and souls and minds. He is interested not simply in some type of physical healing, but in a complete healing that leads to a radically new life, a life that will lead into an eternal relationship with Him.
St. Paul described this life-changing encounter with Christ by saying, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17) When we turn to Jesus Christ, He wants to form us into a new creation, something drastically new and refreshing. He doesn’t allow us to stay as we are, but wants change, transformation, transfiguration – He desires a new life for us!
Therefore, the big question is “Do you want to be healed?” Do we want to be healed in this manner? Are we interested and willing to go in a new direction in our lives, in a way that follows the path of Jesus Christ? Do we sincerely want to be citizens of His heavenly kingdom, living under His reign here and now? Or do we want to hold on to our old self, no matter how broken and paralyzed and unhealthy it may be?
Sometimes when I share with people the ways of Jesus Christ – loving our enemies, forgiving one another, showing mercy and kindness to all people, living a life of unconditional and divine love – I hear people respond, “Well, I’m not willing to do that. I’m not willing to forgive the person who hurt me. I’m not interested in loving the person who is so different from me. Or simply, I don’t want to change certain habits that I’m used to.” Maybe one’s pride or stubbornness or comfortableness with what they’re familiar with, won’t allow them to become a “new creation.”
Do we want to be made well?
In the Gospel story, after Jesus asked the man paralyzed for 38 years if he wanted to be made well, He did perform a miracle and healed him. Yet, afterwards, our Lord says to the man, “See you have been made well. Sin no more, lest something worse come upon you.”
After 38 years, the man was healed. He could begin a new life. He didn’t need to be carried around wherever he wanted to go. He wouldn’t be as reliant on friends and others. He had a new life. Yet Jesus warns him, “You have a new life, but what are you going to do with this new life, with this gift of life that I have given you? Be careful not to live your new life in a way that will lead to eternal paralysis, that will lead to death itself.”
We see that there is something worse that being physically paralyzed, and there may be something worse that all the brokenness or debilitating habits that we have in our lives. It’s good to want to be healed, but are we open to complete healing, to life-changing transformation?
Jesus promised his followers, “I came to give you life and to give it to you abundantly,” but the abundant life in Christ is not a self-centered life where we solely think about our own pleasures and comfort. The Apostle Paul’s description of becoming a new creation implies that our old ways pass away, and we live a new life in Christ. St. Paul goes on to say that our new life in Christ is a life where we are reconciled with Him, we are at peace with God, and that we have become ambassadors of Christ, reconciling the world and uniting the world back to God.
To serve as an ambassador of a country, one has to take care to represent that country’s interests and all it stands for. In similar manner, if we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we represent Him in the way we live, in the way we act, in the words we share, in the goals and directions of our lives. St. Paul even goes on to say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Our life is not our own, but it is Christ’s!!!
As followers of Jesus Christ who seek His healing in our own lives, we need to understand that with His amazing grace that heals and renews, we become a new creation, we open up our lives to experience the abundant life He promises, we become His ambassador in the world around us, and in this joyous and meaningful life, we realize that our life is not our own. We can no longer live our lives in whatever egocentric way or careless and carefree way we want. He has called us to Him and this divine calling leads us into a new life of sacrificial love, of unbounded mercy and grace. We become His instrument, His presence in the world around us.
That’s a life full of serious responsibility, but also a life full of deepest meaning! And as we live this life in Christ, the beauty is that we are never alone. He is with us! He is in us! He is filling us with His Holy Spirit and guiding us each and every day!
So, we come back to today’s Gospel story and the man paralyzed for 38 years. Now we can better understand why Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” It’s not simply about some physical healing or miracle of the body. It’s much more about the radical change and transformation of the entire person. “Do you want to be made well?... See you have been made well. Sin no more.” May we all become a new creation and live our new and abundant lives in Jesus Christ, according to His ways, His grace, His mercy, and His sacrificial love.
Christ is Risen!
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Holy Land Pilgrimage 2019