Take Up Your Mat and Walk

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Reading 1 Ez 47:1-9, 12

The angel brought me, Ezekiel,
back to the entrance of the temple of the LORD,
and I saw water flowing out
from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east,
for the façade of the temple was toward the east;
the water flowed down from the right side of the temple,
south of the altar.
He led me outside by the north gate,
and around to the outer gate facing the east,
where I saw water trickling from the right side.
Then when he had walked off to the east
with a measuring cord in his hand,
he measured off a thousand cubits
and had me wade through the water,
which was ankle-deep.
He measured off another thousand
and once more had me wade through the water,
which was now knee-deep.
Again he measured off a thousand and had me wade;
the water was up to my waist.
Once more he measured off a thousand,
but there was now a river through which I could not wade;
for the water had risen so high it had become a river
that could not be crossed except by swimming.
He asked me, "Have you seen this, son of man?"
Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he had me sit.
Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides.
He said to me,
"This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.
Wherever the river flows,
every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
and there shall be abundant fish,
for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9

R. (8) The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Come! behold the deeds of the LORD,
the astounding things he has wrought on earth.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Verse Before the Gospel Ps 51:12a, 14a

A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the joy of your salvation.

Gospel Jn 5:1-16

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
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.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
"It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat."
He answered them, "The man who made me well told me,
'Take up your mat and walk.'"
They asked him,
"Who is the man who told you, 'Take it up and walk'?"
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
"Look, you are well; do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you."
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.
- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

“Do you want to be well?” he asked. (John: 5:6)

Six words. A simple question. But what do I answer?

Yes, Lord.

Of course I want to be well. To be healed. To be who You made me to be. But how?

It has been so long. And I feel so alone. How can I be well in the midst of this brokenness? How can I heal when I feel such pain?

How do I move forward, into Your arms, when the harsh gaze of others reminds me of my wounds and holds me back?

How do I make it to You?

“Rise, take up your mat and walk.” (John 5:8)

Seven words this time. A simpler statement. But how can it be so?

Can’t You see that I am weak? How can I possibly rise, let alone carry this load?

I am scared.

Yet I feel a warmth in Your presence. My heart is stirring at the sound of Your voice. If You say I can do it, it must be so.

Jesus, I trust in You.

And so, I rise, pick up my mat, and walk.

I walk past the faces of disbelief. I walk past those who stare and whisper doubt about the worth of this miracle. I walk past their judgement, as well as my own, past my vices and my fears, the things I idolize and the things I cling to.

I keep walking forward, feeling stronger with each step, pushing through the stumbles, until I am there, in Your embrace, safe, loved, and free.

What’s holding you back from walking toward Jesus’ loving embrace? Make a good Confession, get to Mass, pray with a wide-open heart.

Sarah Stanley is a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsessed with all things Ignatian and is very passionate about faith, social justice, and the intersection of the two. She recently earned her Master of Divinity and now serves as the Director of Christian Service at a high school in New England. When she’s not working, she enjoys contagious laughter, travel, clever puns, and finding the good in all things. You can find out more about her here.


  • Reply
    Tanya Hielke
    March 13, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Thank you Sarah for your very Ignatian words. I was at our parish mission last night and this very topic of “what obstacles are keeping you from God” was the topic. We are called, loved and forgiven by an adoring God.
    Through regular confession, I am a better person, a better servant. A good confession for me is going in with the purpose of unloading the the very sin that I repeat and that weighs me down, keeping me from crossing that river. Thank you for saying those words; “Make a good confession, get to Mass, and pray with a wide-open heart.”

  • Reply
    March 13, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Thank you for such a heart-felt reflection

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