Skip to main content

A Dramatic Retelling of John 5

A couple of weeks ago I began writing this short story on John 5.

"When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" The sick man answered him, "Sir I have no man to put me into the pool..." John 5: 6-7a



Isaac feebly attempted to get into the healing pool. It was about noon, the time when the sick were brought into the water.  He crawled, he fell, he pleaded for others to help him, but each time he did so he would hear their scorn and whisperings.  He could never get into the healing pool.  So he gave up and instead sat in his corner, the corner being so worn that the outline of his body was permanently imprinted on it.

Daily he undertook this ritual, but to no avail.  The more he tried the less he succeeded.   After doing this for years he gave up and instead waited at the pool and made idle talk with his miserable cohort. To Ezekiel he said, “How are you doing today?”  Ezekiel replied, “The same, sick as always, can’t walk, and my last set of teeth just fell out.” After laughing and spitting out his last tooth he continued, ‘there used to be a time when I cared and I hoped to get well, but I have given up all hope.    I am shunned and despised by all.”  Another paralytic named Jacob chimed into the conversation exclaiming, “What is the point of all of this? What is the point of this life?  Why doesn’t God just take our lives?  I have been pleading for him to take mine for years.”  After all of these conversations Isaac replied, “ I, too have given up all hope.  In a strange way I am comfortable with my unhappiness, it is all that I know.  I don’t know how I would live without it.  The only
comfort that I have is your miserable company, and my own.” 

After bidding good night to his friends Isaac fell asleep and he said for the millionth time, “God if you are there help me but since you are not good night.” Not being consoled by these words he fell asleep.  The sun set rapidly and the night came as it always did without the promise of change.

The next morning there was a tumult at the pools.  There were large crowds, all vying to get closer to some self proclaimed prophet and his merry band.  Jacob awoke first and grudgingly said, “What is the meaning of this, at this hour!  Ezekiel also replied annoyed, “Another wonder worker, what spell will he cast!”  I hope that he casts a spell that sends this crowd away!” Ezekiel sarcastically said as he laughed and began to cough so violently that he nearly collapsed.  Isaac awoke lastly and asked, “What is this racket?  I bet you that it’s nothing.  I will try to fall asleep again.”  But as he tried to fall asleep he couldn’t since the noise of the crowd grew stronger and stronger. 

In the distance he heard the crowd shouting “teach us master, teach us” The teacher began, “Come to me, all of you who are burdened and I will give you new life.  Come with me for my yoke is easy and burden light.”  Isaac was intrigued, but as soon as he began to think about those words he grew bitter and angrier.  “…burden light?” “I will show this charlatan whose burden is light!” And as Isaac said this he clenched his fists and began to swing his right arm in anger.  But after tiring himself with this futile exercise he sat again on the same mat which he sat on for years imprinting the marble floor even more.

Again he heard the crowd asking, “Master teach us, teach us some more!”  Again he heard the preacher’s voice in the distance, but this time closer, about thirty yards not more.  The teacher proclaimed, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life…He who believes in me will have eternal life.” “Eternal life?” asked Isaac.  “What is eternal life?” a life of unrelenting misery.” A life sitting next to this pool without being able to get in, a life of being shunned, despised by all.”  If this is eternal life I don’t want any part of it.  Hell, I don’t even want a new life. I just want to be left alone.”

As he clumsily crawled back to his accustomed space he saw the crowd as it began to disperse.  But from the corner of his eye he saw the preacher heading towards him.  Isaac didn’t know why but each time he saw the preacher his heart began to beat faster and faster.  He began to sweat, and feel lightheaded.  But it was a strange lightheadedness, one mixed with exhilaration, and ecstasy; each time the master walked closer the feeling intensified until he saw the preacher’s  face not more than a couple of feet.  At that point Isaac was visibly sweaty, looking like he ran a marathon during those brief minutes.  But after seeing the master face to face, an unexplainable peace began to overcome him;  a peace familiar, yet a new one which transcended emotion. The master turned to him and said, “Do you want to be healed?”  Isaac cleared his throat and asked the question back, “Do I want to be healed?” Once he asked this all of the peace that he experienced vanished and he answered bitterly, “What kind of question is that?” ‘Do I want to be healed?  I won’t even answer that.  The master once again asked smiling gently, “Do you want to be healed?”  Isaac answered in a gruff voice, “Why do you ask me that? What are you some magician, do you want to perform in front of your audience here, what am I your clown? Your amusement! But after seeing that there was no one near him or the master he calmed for a brief moment until the master looked into his eyes again and commanded, “Stand up and walk.”  Isaac at that point began to realize the enormity of this command.  He thought to himself, “What if the master is right and I begin to walk.  What will my life be like after that?  Will I need to get a job? Will I need to find a new house? What will I tell my family?” All of these questions began encircling his mind in a deafening frenzy until he reached the point of resigned surrender.  “I have nothing left but the hope of a new life and I am willing to try that.”  As soon as he thought this he began to get up and walk.  At first he couldn’t pull himself up since he had not done so for most of his life.  But as he began to lift he felt a new strength in his back and legs so much that he was able to get up on his own.  With tears in his eyes Isaac exclaimed, “I am healed, I can walk.”  The master replied, “Your faith has made you well.”  Isaac asked could I join your group?  The Master replied “Go instead and tell the good news of your healing to everyone that you meet.  Tell them the news; spend your entire life doing so.  If you do this I will be in your heart forever and you will be at peace.”

After saying this master walked away into the distance.  Isaac attempted to follow him but changed his mind and turned the other way.  He opened and closed his eyes just to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming.  Once he realized that he wasn’t he turned and made his way to the pool where Ezekiel and Jacob were sitting. He began to walk towards them determined on telling them the good news of his healing

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was a notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is a famous scene in the Bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident, Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments, I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob, I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He, in fact, encouraged this honest…