redemption

Do You Want to be Well

Scripture (John 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 anymore,
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.

The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,
or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.

Reflection

In today’s Gospel Jesus asks the ill man a simple question, “Do you want to be well?”  That simple question can be a very profound one for all Christians, do we WANT to be well.  Being well, having fulfillment in our lives, and growing in a spiritual relationship with Christ begins with our own desire.   What is it that we want?  Are we willing to make that simple choice and say yes to Jesus’ question?  Yet, that simple question does not mean that coming to the answer is an easy process for any of us.

I am blessed to work in a Catholic high school and get to experience the world through the eyes of teenagers.   The trials and joys of life hit young people in fresh ways as so much of their life is a first experience.  High school often presents young people with their first big disappointment, their first deep friendship, and their initial awareness of real pain or fear.  What is inspiring about working with teenagers is that more often than not they respond to life’s challenges with a joyful willingness to say yes to Christ.  Teenagers see the glass as half full and their future is a place of promise and hope. They are not jaded by past experiences or flawed hurtful memories.  Teens may make plenty of mistakes, but their willingness to say yes to Christ in the face of difficulties is inspiring.

During Lent we should all reflect on Jesus’ question, “Do we want to be well?”  In prayer search for a teenager’s sense of joy and fun before responding.  My prayer is that I can put aside my adult weariness of the world and the stress of daily challenges and renew my efforts to listen for Jesus’s call.  Not only should we respond that yes, we want to be well, but we should do so with a teenager’s passion and excitement and shout out that “Yes! We want to be well.”

 
Discovery House ad.png

These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.

 

Questions

  • How has Jesus called out to you?  Are you actively listening for God’s call?

  • In what ways do you need healing?  What do you need to be well?

  • How can you adopt a youthful sense of joy and excitement when facing the troubles in your life?

 

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire
— Catherine of Siena

Action 

Pray that you can respond to the challenges of the world with joy and excitement.

 

Author

Edward Foy is the principal at Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay, WI

If Only . . .

Scripture (Isaiah 65:17-21)

Thus says the LORD:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,
or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.

Reflection

One advent at Inspirio we decide to offer a day of reflection.  I suggested to the staff that the theme should be joy.  There were a few odd looks that day because joy is not always my mode of being.  Too often, while acknowledging there are many good things in my life, I can be a person who hears the phrase (at least internally) If only . . . If only I was thinner… If only we had more money . . . If only I was more articulate . . . If only I could ‘play the game’ better. . . If only my writing was more inspirational . . .

if only….

aaron-rodgers1.jpg

Then I would be good enough, happy, and fulfilled.  Sometimes I wish I played football and at least once, scored a touchdown!  I would do the dance and know, if only for a moment, I had reached the goal.  Paraphrasing the Dalai Lama: humans sacrifice health in order to make money . . . use money to recuperate health. And then being anxious about the future . . . do not enjoy the present; the result being that we live in the present or the future; living as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

The world of if only . . . is living in a world that seeks validation, acceptance and affirmation.  It is a world that clings to guilt and shame for past offenses, sets conditions on our value, and has anxiety about the future.  It is world that uses order, control and perfection as validation. Unfortunately, order, control and perfection are the enemies of grace and forgiveness.  God tells Isaiah, “I am creating a new heaven and a new earth.”  Our past will not matter.  The future is secure, and the present is full of joy.  It is not necessary to be thin or to have money or to be more articulate to be loved.  We have been made new and forgiven by God’s grace- not by our meager efforts at control and perfection.  While we are punishing ourselves in trying to be something we are not, God delights in our very existence as we are.  Isaiah tells us:

Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.

 

You are Jerusalem!  (substitute your name in the passage above for the word Jerusalem.) Allow God’s grace in to permeate your being.  Then the phrase

If only . . .

would be eliminated from our vocabulary and the present would be full of joy. 

 
Discovery House ad.png

These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.

 

Questions

  • When do you live in the world of “if only?”
  • What will help you to let go of the past, work through anxiety and worry about the future and live in the present with joy as a new creation of God?
  • When are you aware that God delights in and exults you?
Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
— Fr. Henri Nouwen

Action 

FAST:  from living in the past or future.  Be in the moment of the day.

PRAY: God of all new things.  Make me a new creation.  Help me to live in the moment with joy and gratitude.  Amen.

GIVE compassion

 

Author

joe and sarah.jpeg

Joe Nettesheim is the founder and director of 12plus1.  He has been involved in Church ministry since 1991.  He is the founder and director of 12plus1.  12plus1 is designed to make a positive impact in the world through service, community and faith.  He and his wife Maribeth, have been married for almost six years.  Their blended family consists of 5 children, 2 sons-in-law, 6 grandchildren and TS Eliot, the golden doodle.