Rise – Mario Francisco, SJ

John 5:1-3; 5-16, Tuesday of the 4th Week of Lent

It has been more than a year since the pandemic was declared, and while we have all found resilient and creative ways of coping with its effects on our lives and work, we are all experiencing quarantine fatigue. Even with the promise of the much-awaited and long-delayed vaccine, thanks to global and local politics and incompetence, we feel tired. Nakakapagod na; kapuy ngyud kaayo in more expressive Cebuano. We seem to be running around in circles and pretty soon, running on empty.

Thus we can easily feel with, empathize with the poor paralytic in today’s Gospel story—alone, stuck on the ground, unable to sprint to the healing pool of water. Allow me to invite you to enter into his heart with our own burdens and paralysis, with our own weakness and inability to move up and forward…

Stay with the paralytic. For us whose “everything” meeting now must be prepared for, let us open our eyes to the chance coming of the unknown and unexpected figure of Jesus drawing toward us, asking a seemingly naïve question, “Do you want to be healed?” The paralytic doesn’t even blurt out, “Of course!” He simply says, “I have no one to help me.”

Jesus then, without even touching him, like he does in many other Gospel stories of healing, just tells him, “Rise, take up your mat and walk!”

My dear friends, this is also Jesus’ word to us now. We have long been languishing, weighed down by being isolated from friends, even family, which often plays dirty tricks on our minds and hearts. Our most cherished relationships reveal cracks along faultlines. We worry about the pandemic’s longterm effects on the education and future of our children. We see no clear path for our country, plagued by poverty and violence, especially among those at the margins, ‘yung nasa laylayan ng lipunan. We cannot but cry with the writer of the psalm, “How long, O Lord?”

Then Jesus, out of nowhere, comes with his words. Let us listen to them with our hearts and let them work wonders within. He does not bring us to the miraculous pool, because he is himself the Living Water who quenches our every thirst and cleanses us. Let us be reborn in his life-giving waters, so that the fullness of life promised by the Prophet Ezekiel becomes ours: trees ripe with fruit near rivers teeming with fish. Let his words like the mustard seed grow day by day, lifting us up and strengthening our limbs, so that we move without difficulty toward all those we care about and follow in the footsteps of Jesus more closely.

*image from the Internet

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