The Healing Journey

Oratio 43

Lectionary Text:

John 5:1-9


Down by the healing bool in Bethsaida, Jesus meets a man who has been afflicted for 38 years. In this man Jesus identifies a want for strength, a longing to be healed from his suffering. 

Jesus asks the man the great mystic question:

“Do you wish, do you desire, do you intend, to be well? To be whole? To be healed?”

The man quickly responds to Jesus by explaining how healing is a zero-sum game – some get to water first and are healed, and there are none to help the rest find their way.

Jesus restores to man his agency to take hold of his own healing journey. Jesus says, “Arise.” 

The place where the man found himself is where so many other afflicted outcasts of society gathered. It was a place of bonding over shared trauma, shared experiences of abuse, and shared stories of affliction. At the end of the day however, folks appeared to only be looking out for their own healing. The community at Bethsaida, who were first failed by the socio-religious system they came from, was a mirage of a community. Healing could not come from this place – not because angels aren’t real, or the stirring waters did not have power, but because the people cared not for their neighbor. 

Jesus calls the man to look elsewhere. If he intendsto be healed, he must rise from the place he finds himself, and journey forward towards that healing. While there is a true scarcity of resources, most especially for marginalized folks, healing is not impossible. The mystic tradition is brilliantly resourceful in the face of a lack of resources. 

The invitation from this passage is to leave the places of our affliction, and the communities that do not facilitate our healing, and to journey towards wherever wholeness might be found. 

Healing requires our participation. It demands we acknowledge the possibility of strength and our agency in this midst of our affliction. Healing from trauma requires the inward journey through the many mansions of our soul to square off with our demons, commune with our shadow, and bring rest to the tempest that rages within.

Healing does not happen overnight. We cannot snap our fingers and immediately we well. But we can begin. We can stir the waters of our own soul and address and begin the process of regeneration.

I pray we all find the courage to take the long hard journey towards wholeness. That we would find healing where we did not believe it was possible. That we would leave the places that do not serve us but only hold us back from our fullness. And that when we do get well, we would help others heal, leaving no one behind: neither ourselves, or others. 

Wade into the troubled waters of your soul, and therein, meeting with the Divine that is in you, be well and be whole.