The sick man answered HIM, "Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." John 5:7
This Gospel reading gets me every time. My heart fills up whenever I read..."but while I am coming, someone steps down before me". I know what he means. Sometimes we are the paralyzed man watching everyone run by, and sometimes we may be the runners with not even a second glance at the poor man struggling along to get to the pool.
The spiritual life can sometimes seem like a "rat race". Prayer groups, youth groups, charismatics, Latin Mass people, Novus Ordo People. Everyone is running to and fro looking for that spiritual pool that will be the "Answer"....that will bring the instant miracle....that will make them feel they are part of the group, that will give Faith "physical" certainty. We are all so worried about being a part of that all elusive "group" that gets to the pool first. The healed ones. The fulfilled ones. The ones with the best confessors, the ones who have all the right priests as friends, the ones who are "in the know" about Church affairs with intellectually prideful intentions. It just smacks of a kind of Ecclesiastical Social Climbing. It is that elusive pool that only the best runners get to.
But like that poor, paralyzed man we can sometimes just plop down and say "Enough!" This isn't the answer....trying to do this on our own for all the wrong reasons...carving up the Church's riches into our OWN bite sized,dilettante choices of liturgy and prayer. The spiritual life is hidden, in the room of our soul, hidden with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Let's live it there. Take advantage of the Sacraments in the ordinary way. Go to confession to priests who are not "famous". Go to Mass and sit quietly. Let's not go for the music, or the arm waving, or the tongues, or the organ music, or the preaching, or the youth band, or the proper lace on vestments. Let's not go because we feel so darned proud that we have found the inner ring of the "true faithful" and all those "other" people have not. Go because we are starving for the living God. Go because we are paralyzed, and tired and worn, and sad. And there, suddenly, Jesus will be. He will come quietly, in the ordinary way of the Eucharist. He will see each of us like He saw the paralyzed man among all the throng of people around that pool. He will not leave us orphaned. He will heal. He will pay attention. He will see us without us struggling to BE seen.
And then like this healed paralytic, we can go and tell everyone we meet what He did for us and not what we did for ourselves.