Ever since Adam and Eve, God has known that we cannot find Him by ourselves. We cannot be healed by ourselves. When a man was lying next to the Pool at Bethesda sick for thirty-eight years, he believed he was all alone without anyone to lift him up, but he was never alone. We are not alone. We have God and His Church to lift us up and help us be healed.
When you allow the rhythm of the Church to be your guide, great things happen. Today during the reading of the Holy Gospel, a phrase is used by the paralyzed man that should have reminded us of Holy Week. When Christ approaches the man lying by the pool of Bethesda waiting to be healed, He asked the man, “Do you want to be healed?” It is the man’s reply that should remind us of Holy Week. He said to Christ, “I have no man to put me in the water.”
I think it odd that so many Christians expect a life without struggle. We are taught that God is our protector and provider. We are taught that He will defeat our enemies, yet we encounter enemies around every corner. Some teach that we struggle because we do not have enough faith. They suggest, ‘believe more, and suffer less’ but this is in direct conflict with real life evidence. It is also in conflict with the Holy Scriptures. Try to tell Job to simply believe more and the suffering will disappear. Try telling the countless martyrs of the early Church to simply believe more.
We all know that someone in our life that lives on the edge, that someone who never comes to Church but always wants to judge those who do. We all know that someone who constantly speaks out against the Church and our brother and sister Christians. We also know that God asks us to love them and forgive them, but sometimes we might think they are a “lost cause” so we write them off.
We pray every day, or at least we should, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Then we go about our day. Every now and then, normally during a crisis, we wonder if our struggle is God’s will? What is God’s will? For sure it has nothing to do with houses, and boats, and cars and material stuff that “moth and rust consume.” Take a moment and read today’s Gospel lesson below….
Nobody enjoys suffering, but we all suffer. Nobody wants to see their loved ones sick in the hospital, but at some point, we all have the experience. Nobody wakes up in the morning and asks, “How shall I suffer today?” It isn’t a normal part of our consciousness to desire suffering, but it is part of our normal experience. As a priest I am blessed to sit side-by-side many who suffer. I have learned that suffering comes in all shapes and sizes. I have also learned that it cannot be altogether avoided. It is a part of life.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2.7) From that very moment every human being has struggled to maintain a healthy balance between the needs of the body and needs of the soul. Many times, most times really, the story of human history is a story of our failing to remember this important balance. It is a story of humans placing more emphasis, sometimes the only emphasis, on the needs of the body as more important than the soul.
So many Christians believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. In the first few days after His resurrection, so many believed that He had died, they found it impossible to believe He was alive again. After all, He died on the holiest day of the year, in the most important city of His people, in front of the largest crowds. EVERYONE saw that He was dead, and that’s just how God wanted it. Once everyone believed He was dead, then when they saw Him alive again, they would finally believe that He was God.
As we celebrated on Holy Friday, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was hanging crucified on a cross on the holiest day of the year, in the most important city of the Jewish world, in front of the entire city. When He died, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for permission to bury Jesus. Jesus had died in front of huge crowds of people, but Pilate was not convinced that He was dead, so he sent soldiers to make sure He was dead. This was an important point in history.
Economic struggle is becoming the norm for many Americans, despite what we may hear in the news. Most live paycheck to paycheck with nothing in savings for retirement, let alone a rainy day. This has left a void in the lives of many, which naturally has been filled by those prescribing a solution to economic woes, among them are those who subscribe to the Prosperity Gospel. The Prosperity Gospel suggests the more we believe, the more God will bless us with financial comfort. Prosperity Gospel preachers are famous for living in lush mansions as evidence of God’s promise for success.