Friends, in today’s Gospel, we find the beautiful healing of a paralyzed man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. Jesus sees the man lying on his mat, next to a pool, and asks, “Do you want to be well?” The man answers him, and Jesus replies, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately, the man is healed.
Now at this point, the story really heats up. We notice something that is frequently on display in the Gospels: the resistance to the creative work of God, the attempt to find any excuse, however lame, to deny it, to pretend it’s not there, to condemn it.
One would expect that everyone around the cured man would rejoice, but just the contrary: the Jewish leaders are infuriated and confounded. They see the healed man and their first response is, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
Why are they so reactive? Why don’t they want this to be? We sinners don’t like the ways of God. We find them troubling and threatening. Why? Because they undermine the games of oppression and exclusion that we rely upon in order to boost our own egos.
Let this encounter remind us that God’s ways are not our ways, and that there is one even greater than the sabbath.