The whole purpose of this liturgical season is to return to Jesus with our whole hearts. I don’t know about you, but when I picture my heart, it isn’t always pretty. I picture my heart with its scars, bruises, and sometimes it’s weariness. When I read Today’s Readings, I long to be that very sick old man. That may sound funny, but I’m being completely honest. Jesus comes to him as he is ill and in a low place. Jesus says to him, “Do you want to be well?”. What does that sound like in your own ears? What is Jesus referring to as He states those words to you right now? “Do you want to be well?”. I hear those words and know that they are saturated in a tender love. Those words come from a Man who wants your free will, He wants you to talk to Him about what you want. He wants to know if you want to be well.
What is wellness? Wellness is a state of being in good health. We may think automatically about the health of our bodies when we hear this, but it’s even more than that. It’s about the whole person. Jesus is asking about all of us. Do we want to be well in the health of our body? Do we want to be well in the health of our soul? My answer is a deep soul cry “yes”. I long to be well, to be in great health, body and soul. Do you want that too? As we continue to read, we hear that Jesus tells Him to “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” The moment of a miracle. When I read this encounter, I realize that the opportunity for this miracle is based on a question and answer. How often does Jesus pursue our hearts and yet we do not reply. How often does Jesus pursue us in asking, “Do you want to be well?”.
At the end of the story, Jesus found this old man healed 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.” Here in this simple phrase, we are given to opportunity to see very clearly the heart of Jesus. Yes, in His words we can see the Sacred Heart of Jesus for what it is. It is a heart of complete love, protection, and care. Jesus advises this man whom he healed to sin no more. Why? Because He doesn’t want him to get hurt. When we look at the Ten Commandments as a list of forbidding rules, we may feel annoyed or imposed upon. When we look at the Ten Commandments for what they truly are, we encounter the heart of Jesus. The whole reason God has given us the guidelines of the Ten Commandments is perfectly summed up in Jesus’ words, “so that nothing worse may happen to you.” Sin hurts us, breaks us down, wounds our hearts, relationships with others and with God Himself. If you have a hard time understanding why you’re not supposed to do this or that, reflect on how it affects your body, soul, and relationship with God. Then you will know that Jesus just wants to keep you safe. He wants to know if you wish to be well and then he wants to keep you safe in that wellness forever.
What is this Scripture story calling us to? Well, I do know what makes my heart and soul well…It is the gift and Sacrament of Reconciliation. The place we come to encounter the mercy of Jesus, the answer to His question. When we go to receive this sacrament we are saying, “Yes, I want to be well.” It is in this sacrament that we are made well by His grace and forgiveness. We become white as snow and that scarred wounded heart starts to heal. As we leave the confessional, Jesus says to us, “Do not sin again, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” He wants us safe and safety lies in being in communion with Him.
Briana is a Catholic youth minister at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to bring her students closer to Christ and His Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese