“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?’” – Jn. 5:6
In today’s gospel, Jesus asked a sick man pointedly, “Do you want to be well?” The man does not immediately answer the question but rather seemingly rationalizes why he cannot be well. It is only when he surrendered to Jesus that the healing began.
The gospel is not as much about worthiness as it is about surrender. What God wants from us is not a million acts of virtue, but a million acts of surrender. When we have given up everything and are completely helpless to give ourselves anything then salvation can be given to us.
And that is the key, salvation can only be given. It can never be taken, earned or possessed by right. Nothing we have or can accumulate in this life – fame, fortune, health, good looks, a good name, or even moral virtue, religious fidelity, personal sanctity, or the practice of social justice – tips God’s hand towards us. What tips God’s hand is helplessness, surrender in grace. Life is not about claiming worthiness, or about building things, especially our own egos, but about getting in touch with helplessness.
Age and sickness brings us physically to our knees and more and more everything we have so painstakingly built up begins to mean less and less. That is the order of things. Salvation is not about great achievements, but about a great embrace. All we have to do is surrender.
Lord Jesus, you desire to heal all our sufferings. Give us the grace to surrender to your embrace.
Adapted from Ronald Rolheiser, OMI