“Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”
As part of my PhD studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I am taking a class called Central City Planning. For the first month of class we read about and discussed the problems that urban communities face. Our discussions continually came back to systemic injustices within our culture that result in poverty, racism, and environmental degradation.
About a month into the course our professor walked into class, sat down, and told us that he was going to change the theme of our class. Rather than discussing urban problems, we were going to discuss what actions could be taken to address these problems. Instead of submitting our weekly reading reflection memos, we were going to begin to submit action memos. Now, each student comes to every class with an inspiring story of a community based organization that challenges the status quo and takes real action at addressing problems in our inner cities.
These types of actions remind me of Jesus in today’s gospel reading. If Jesus were to follow the status quo, He would have passed by the suffering man waiting to enter the pool at Bethesda. For it was a Sabbath day, and Jews were not to do any work on the Sabbath. However, Jesus saw an immediate need so he told the man to “Rise, take up your mat, and walk”.
As I reflect on this reading, I look at all of the examples of those in my life who choose to go against the status quo to place themselves in God’s service. Lent does not only need to be a time of prayer, fasting, and giving alms, but can also be a time to take action.
Reflect on the action that Jesus took at the pool at Bethesda in today’s reading.
What is one action that we can take before the end of Lent that would be an example of placing ourselves in God’s service?
Remember, no action is too small. Many small actions can lead to big change. Examples of actions could be calling a loved one who you haven’t spoken to in a while, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, or buying a homeless person a cup of coffee, or baking cookies for a coworker who might be struggling.
Say a short prayer thanking God for those who have helped you to “rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Ask God for the strength to be of service to others.
God of Love and Compassion, we ask that you give us sight, so that we can see the world through your eyes. We ask for ears to hear your call to service and the hands to do your will. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother. Amen.