I am always taken by the healing stories in the Gospels. Today's gospel is no exception:
"One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 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?' The sick man answered him, 'Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.' Jesus said to him, 'Rise, take up your mat, and walk.' Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked."
38 years. Can you imagine? What a long time to wait mere feet from the water you believe could heal you, if only you had the support of community to put you in the water.
How many people are suffering, alone and lonely in the midst of a world full of "others." It seems to me that by healing this man on the sabbath, thereby angering the powers that be, Jesus was also challenging a society that lets someone suffer alone for 38 years. Where was the support of community? Put in 21st Century terms, why didn't the authorities help provide him with access to health care? Where was the social safety net to keep him from falling through the cracks?
Those questions look at literal physical healing. But we are in need of the healing power of love, care and concern as well. Jesus challenges us, challenges me, to reach out to the "other." And perhaps something else that can be even harder, to allow others to reach out to me.
Those are my Tuesday morning thoughts.