Minute Meditations

Others Can Show Us Our Best Selves

“Do you want to be healed?…Then stand up, pick up your mat and walk!” —John 5:7, 9

In John’s Gospel we see an image of fruitful and healing water, fittingly called Bethesda or “house of mercy.” We have the healing waters available and bubbling, a house of mercy for sure, but a man who is right there not making use of it! He is paralyzed as much in spirit as in his body. This is the real “sin” and tragedy that he must be healed of. He is playing the victim: “I have no one to plunge me into the pool. By the time I get there someone else has always beaten me to it.” And he has been saying this for thirty-eight years! So Jesus orders him up, and tells him to pick up his mat and walk for himself. Jesus mirrors his best self for the man, he empowers him, and gives him back his own power, he “images” him, he gives the man back to himself by giving him His self. This is the way it has to happen, because we all begin to see ourselves as other people see us—for good and for ill. With Jesus, it is always for good, but such perfect mirroring also carries further relationship and responsibilities with it. He warns the man not to turn back to his paralysis, “or something worse will overtake you.” This “regressive restoration of the old persona” is a very common pattern when we are sent out into new and risky worlds when we have to take responsibility for ourselves, when we must courageously face our own lives and stand on our own courageous feet. There are few honest guides, like Jesus, at this point. Most will tell you to “take good care of yourself” and pad your false self. Jesus never does that. We need healing images and courageous people to image us at our best. Nothing else will invite us into the flowing waters from the temple and the always bubbling pool of divine mercy. Many never take the risk, and remain spiritual infants even much beyond “thirty-eight years.” 

“Healing God, give me the courage to move forward, and help me to see that my deepest sin might be my unwillingness to keep growing.” 

—from the book Wondrous Encounters: Scriptures for Lent 
by Richard Rohr, OFM, page 86

Wondrous Encounters by Richard Rohr


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