Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One of the Gospel Lessons during the Paschal Season is that of the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). He had been lying at the pool for many years waiting for the troubling of the water. The tradition was that the first to enter the pool after the troubling was healed. This poor man had no one to help him be first, but he believed and hoped that one da someone would come to help him. His response to Jesus shows that perhaps he thought the Lord was the one who might wait with him there in the porticoes of the pool. The Paralytic was right. Jesus was the One, but he did not need to enter the pool at all. All he needed was to demonstrate his openness and the Lord healed him then and there.
Healing is a complicated matter. It involves every aspect of the human person. The body cannot be well if the mind is sick. Mind, body, and spirit are so interconnected that one affects the other directly. It is significant that Jesus asks the man if he wants to be healed. If we do not want to be healed, then we will never experience healing even if it comes. It is possible to not even know that we do not want to be is conditioned to live in sickness as if it is a normal and desirable state of affairs. We are often led to believe that change is impossible. We must be aware and we must be willing if change is to occur.
We need to get to the bottom of this through meditation and prayer with courage. For this we appeal to the Holy Spirit's guidance and to our spiritual fathers and mothers who have insight into our lives and to professionals when necessary. This also accentuates the need for internal silence and wakefulness so that looking within is not just an exercise in trying to see through a glass darkly. We cannot see the bottom of the lake if the mud is stirred up. What is that annoying anxiety that often runs like a stream through the whole of our lives?
Salvation/deification is a process that leaves no stone unturned. Our cooperation is absolutely essential for it to work effectively to transform our lives from the inside out. The effort alone brings relief, but promises much, much more. The seeds of well-being, of peace, of forgiveness, of love and compassion must be nurtured and the weeds of sin, anger, fear, and intolerance uprooted and discarded. The result of courageous and consistent spiritual effort is a treasure whose benefits may be enjoyed in this life and forever.
Fr. Antony Hughes