A series of Lenten (and Easter) Reflections based on the signs in the Gospel of John by Fr Francis Lim, SJ, every Thursday (except Tuesdays during Holy Week and Easter Week).
The Gospel of John is also known as the Book of Signs. John portrays these signs as works of wonder by Jesus in order for believers to deepen their faith in Jesus. Through these reflections, Fr Francis hopes to bring our parishioners to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus.
Reflections on the Healing by the Pool of Bethesda
Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15 (16 March)
Jesus chooses and heals the paralytic by the Pool of Bethesda. He has been in that situation for a very long time. He is old, dependent on others, lethargic, complainer, blamer and a sinner. Is there any part of my life where I am like the paralytic and need healing?
1. Who am I in front of Jesus now? I am weak and blind at times and fail to see him who is just beside me. I acknowledge He is our Father and I am His child, loving me, and He is the source of life for me. I am nothing without Him. We need God and one another.
2. What kind of healing do I need now? I ask for conversion of heart to get rid of my old sinful ways and habits. All my sins paralyse me from experiencing God’s love and healing. I want to obey and listen to Him attentively and do His will. God heals me of my indifference and self-centeredness towards others.
3. Do I help carry others to the pool of Bethesda? Sometimes due to my indifference and sinfulness, I fail to carry others to Him. I know that my reluctance to help others can prevent them from experiencing spiritual and physical healing. May God use me as an instrument to help others to seek help from God.
Like the paralytic at Bethesda, I often act old, dependent on others, lethargic, complaining and blaming others. But like the paralytic who was healed by Jesus, I know that even if I do not ask, Jesus is still willing to heal me. However this will require my hearing his words and obeying them, like the paralytic. I need to see that in Christ there are solutions that I cannot envisage; instead of looking for what I think are solutions.
The pool of Bethesda was not the real desire of the paralytic; healing was. It was only a means to an end. Therefore rather than carrying others to the pool of Bethesda, we should be like the friends of the paralytic in Mark 2:3-12, because they brought their friend to Jesus, the healer.
I consider myself a sinner who is seeking healing from Jesus every day; healing from emotional stress and worries, physical pain, forgiveness amongst others. Instead of carrying others to the “Bethesda Pool,” I will say the Lord’s words: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe … ” I wish to be a more profound witness to my faith by proclaiming the greatness of God in all things, in my daily activities, in the earthly and spiritual blessings I receive, in the answered prayers to my needs.
1. Who am I in front of Jesus now?
Saya adalah anak Tuhan yang inginkan perlindungan dan cinta kasihnya selalu, saya kerap jatuh dalam dosa dan mohon keampunan darinya setiap masa.
2. What kind of healing do I need now?
Saya mahukan penyembuhan dari segi pemikiran dan perasaan saya supaya positif dalam segala hal, agar penuh dengan cinta kasih, suka cita, mengongsikan dengan orang di sekeliling saya, bermurah hati hidup sederhana.
3. Do I help carry others to the pool of Bethesda?
Ya. Saya ingin mulakan dengan ahli keluarga saya, saudara-mara dan rakan-rakan lain agar fokus kepada Yesus yang menyembuhkan kita dari segala penyakit dan bukan air di dalam kolam itu. Tanpa Yesus hidup kita menjadi kosong dan tiada hala tuju yang jelas. Yesuslah terang, kebenaran dan jalan kehidupan kita. Saya akan membawa mereka berdoa bersama, menunjukkan contoh teladan kehidupan seperti Kristus, bercerita tentang Yesus akan kebesaran serta kekuasaan Tuhan dalam Bible agar mereka mempercayai bahawa hanya Tuhan saja tempat kita bernaung.
Who am I in front of Jesus now?
I would say I am still the child of God, still learning my ways to build a stronger relationship with the Triune God I worship. I say “stronger” because every day is an uphill climb, like Jack and Jill, I always come tumbling down when faced by the challenges: challenges from families and workplace. Then, I seek God’s healing daily at the Eucharist whenever I have the opportunity, and try my best to humble myself for a good Confession if not once a month or once in three weeks.
What kind of healing do I need now and how can I change from the Old to the New?
Long time ago, if this question was posed to me, I would only know the Rosary and the Mass as a healing source. And Mass was like the norm of Catholic Sunday routine as taught in typical Sunday school. Come Sunday, into church, sing hymns, pray, Eucharist, sing hymns and go out of church.
But, I see my revival in faith after leaving my families and studying in College in West Malaysia and overseas, where my faith in the Catholic practices see a better light, and a clearer relationship with Christ the Lord, King and Saviour.
My challenges are to uphold this faith in God which is faced with confrontations from other Christians, charismatic Christians and Muslims who criticise our Catholic practices. I thank the Holy Spirit for instilling in me a spirit of discernment early in life and it helped me a lot to be closer to God spiritually. I did not know what discernment was until a few years ago. All the while, it was always there. It is true that our Baptism and Confirmation play a powerful tool to make us mature and strong Catholics to face obstacles provided also we maintain the good ties with God always and as I say, I was never afar from my Rosary recitation from young.
I owe it all to my primary school grounding, planted by the late lovely Sr. Adriana Tiong, SSFS. I can say she is like a spiritual director to me. And another person who also recited the Rosary daily in my family and had gone to the Lord was my Dad.
I have them both as guides then and now.
No doubt in this week’s Bible reflection, we must discern more the Presence of Jesus Christ as the Main Healer. I seek Jesus; I seek God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit in all things new, each year from the Talks and Seminars I attend. Up to date, I have collected numerous Catholic devotions and Retreats as future lists of “to-do” itinerary if I live to accomplish them according to God’s will.
In conclusion, I do my best to “help carry others to this Pool of Bethesda” i.e. our rich Catholic Devotions, but top most is daily Mass where we can find Christ in the Tabernacle, always ready to forgive and heal. I try my best to share with my families and friends, and others who are unwell, even if they are not Christians.
If only everyone can experience that Samaritan woman at the well’s healing repentance and believe like the Roman official’s trust in God’s Power, the Pool of Bethesda is just a pilgrim’s place. The real Pool of Bethesda is to find God in our hearts, beg for forgiveness, repent, then praise and glorify His Name, and receive Him in the sacred body and blood, henceforth true healing will proceed, according to His Will.
I know this because it has helped me a number of times. In addition, friends whom I know with far more serious medical ailments, also seek God’s healing through the Eucharist when all medical and secular remedies failed.
[1/8] Reflections on the Wedding of Cana
[2/8] Reflections on the Healing of the Royal Official’s Son
[4/8] Reflections on the Feeding of the Five Thousand
[5/8] Reflections on Jesus Walking on Water
[6/8] Reflections on Healing of the Man Born Blind