Easter 6 / mother’s day
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.
Imagine this scene: the “many invalids”, all gathered around the pool, all waiting for that one moment when the water is “stirred up.” (The legend was that an angel of the Lord came to the water and stirred it up every once in a while, and the first person in the water after it had been stirred up would be healed.) So the water is stirred up, and there is a mad dash to try to get into the pool—only the first one gets healed. Can you imagine failing at this, year after year? The man in this story can only make it into the pool first if somebody helps him, but nobody will help him because they want to get into the pool first! It’s survival-of-the-fittest, dog-eat-dog, me-first. The only way this man is going to find healing is if someone is willing to give up their healing for his sake. Human nature being what it is, that has not happened in 38 years. You could make the case, however, that this is what Jesus does. He heals the man, and then immediately gets in trouble with the religious leaders for healing on the Sabbath. John tells us that the religious leaders began to plot against Jesus at this point. So his healing of the man puts him on a collision course with the powers-that-be. But he’s willing to do that for the sake of compassion. (It being Mother’s Day and all, we might also muse on the fact that, while we may not be Jesus, mothers in particular tend to sacrifice their own well-being for the well-being of their children. Perhaps the world would be a truer reflection of God’s kingdom if we were all a bit more motherly to each other!)