Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ (John 5:8)
Christmas will be here two weeks from today. Two. Weeks. When I still had little ones at home, I always felt a rush of childlike anticipation at this point in the holiday season. After the little ones grew up and left home, I accused them of taking all my holiday enthusiasm (along with several glasses, two iPhone chargers, and a crockpot). My holiday joy was gone, so I hunkered down for a long, cold winter.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus visited a healing pool in Jerusalem where the blind, lame, and paralyzed had gathered. It was rumored that an angel of the Lord would stir the water, and those who entered afterwards were healed. “One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’” Instead of answering, the man gave excuses: No one will put me in the pool. People are always cutting in front of me.
“Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asked.
Back when all my holiday joy was gone and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, the Holy Spirit (aka, a dear friend) said to me, “There are a lot of people out there that would love to have someone to spend the holidays with them. Go to them! Invite them in! Either way, love them!” Wide-eyed, scared, and defensive, I started making excuses: Everyone has somewhere else to go. I can’t just invite people out of nowhere. My house is a wreck! What if they say no?
And then Jesus’ words hit me: “Do you want to be healed?”
After listening to the man’s excuses, Jesus commanded him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” Immediately, the man was healed, and he picked up his bed and walked. For me to be healed during the holidays, I needed to do what God had commanded me to do: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:30, 31). There was no way I could follow God’s commandments and, at the same time, make excuses for why they wouldn’t work.
Listen, the holidays can be hard. You won’t find me arguing that. But, ask yourself: Do I want to be healed? God loves you, he wants you to love him in return, and to love others as you love yourself. Christmas will be here in two weeks. Get up, share God’s love, and embrace healing!
Our most loving and heavenly Father, help those who struggle with loneliness or unwanted change in their lives during the holidays. Remind them of the gift of your Son’s life, given to redeem ours. Show them the difference that love can make in the lives of others as well as their own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.