In the gospel text of this morning, let us concentrate on two figures: that of the man who is healed, and that of Jesus.
The man who is healed is somewhat strange:
· This is one of the rare cases where Jesus himself takes the initiative: “Do you want to be healed?” And the man is unable to say a clear Yes or No: he prevaricates: There is no one to help me into the water when it is moved. The question is put to me, to us all: Do I really want to be healed? Do I really want to obtain that for which I ask in prayer? We all know the famous prayer of St Augustine: “Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.”
· The man does not know who it is that has healed him – and this is strange, because in most cases the one healed immediately wants to follow Jesus.
· After Jesus meets him in the Temple, the man goes back to the Jews – to report on Jesus? One does not know, and one only hopes not.
So there is this strange man, but also not so strange, because he represents us all, he manifests the mystery of the human heart, the deviousness of the human heart.
And then there is Jesus – he is the real water of life. The water of life is not in the pool of Bethzatha; it is Jesus, from whose heart burst forth springs of living water, the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the water of life, the living water that brings life wherever it flows. He is the water that heals.
Jesus is a mystery: he is not easy to understand – also because his thoughts are not our thoughts. What does he mean when he says to the man he has healed: “Go and do not sin any more, that nothing worse befall you”? What is he doing to our scale of values, where physical health and well-being is usually at the top?
It is not enough to know Jesus. it is not enough to accept him as ONE among MANY. He asks for EVERYTHING: Go, sell all that you have, and come, follow me. This is the meaning of the primacy of God: God is to be first, not one among the many interests and loves of our life. He is the ONE THING NECESSARY, for which the jar of perfume is to be broken and “wasted,” for whom our time is to be wasted (Mary of Bethany), for whom our life is to be wasted.
Let us ask insistently, with Ignatius of Loyola, for intimate knowledge of Jesus, that we might love him more dearly and follow him more closely. Let us ask for it with all our hearts. Let us ask that we might want what he wants – for we cannot even take for granted that we are able to want what he wants.