#WorthRevisit: Do We Really Want to Change?

It’s not today’s Gospel, but it’s definitely one worth considering during Lent, when we are doing our best to change our hearts. Today’s “Worth Revisit” looks back at 2009.

Gospel: Jn 5:1-16

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
“Do you want to be well?”
The sick man answered him,
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
“It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
He answered them, “The man who made me well told me,
‘Take up your mat and walk.’”
They asked him,
“Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
“Look, you are well; do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.

Be Reconciled to God

Father’s homily today centered not on the fact that Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath, but on the fact that He healed someone who didn’t necessarily consider himself ready to be healed.

Do we want to be changed? Certainly it is easier to keep things the same–even if things aren’t great, at least they are familiar. That man in the Gospel who was ill for 38 years and then healed would now have to find a way to earn a living and find himself food and shelter. In some ways, it might have been easier for him to stay the way he was.

Lent is a time of healing. In my college chapel each Lent, banners were hung with the words: “Be reconciled to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.” (I’m not much of a “banner” person but that reminder has stuck with me even after 22 years.)

Our Lenten actions of sacrifice and prayer are meant to heal us, to bring us closer to God, to change us.

So is giving up Milky Ways and designer coffee really going to help me to change? Will it bring me closer to God? Only if I let it. Only if I let those very small sacrifices remind me that it’s not all about me. It’s about letting go of something in favor of a greater good. It’s about turning that sacrifice into an opportunity for almsgiving (that’s what those little cardboard “rice bowls” are all about). It’s about remembering that giving up a candy bar is really small in comparison to what Christ was willing to give up, and allowing that realization to lead me to a greater generosity of spirit.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Hello, yes, it’s been awhile…

Tomorrow evening is the Lenten Penance Service at my parish.

I’m not a frequent flyer at Confession, partly because I never seem to have good luck with it. I’ve tried penance services that turn into Near Occasions of Sin and had lackluster experiences at Saturday-afternoon Confession. (Last time I did that, 3 or 4 years ago, there was no penance, no Act of Contrition…I felt like Father was just phoning it in.)

So I stopped going.

I don’t think too many other people go either, judging by our Substitute Priest’s addendum to Sunday’s announcement about the Penance Service. He said that he’d asked the parish secretary why there was only one such service during Lent, and she promised him that the church wouldn’t even be close to full for that.

Well, around here Wednesday night is Folk Group night, but we decided that we’d practice on Thursday this week so we can go to Confession after hearing Father V’s insistence that this is the best thing we can do for our souls.

Honestly, I don’t feel like any priest has bothered before*. They announce the service and then leave us to our own devices. But Father V wasn’t letting it go that easily.

He said once, during a homily, that as a Substitute Priest he can say what he wants, because he’s only there temporarily so he doesn’t have to worry about being kicked out. So he tells it like it is. And that’s a good thing. I’m grateful that Father V cares enough about the state of our souls to make a big deal out of it.

*Please note that I’m not calling out my current pastor here, because (a) he only just got here in the summer and (b) he’s been dealing with health problems that have incapacitated him since early January, hence our need for a Substitute Priest.

Image credit: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain.