By Sr. Julie Myers
I have a friend who, when listening to someone share a current life’s problem or dilemma in a work situation, or news about health, quickly responds “I’ll pray for you”. At first I thought, well that’s a nice thing to do for that person, but over time it got me really wondering what will she pray for, what will she really ask God for this person? A quick fix is not always the best answer or best medicine for any of us. What about God’s grace at work in our tough situations—whatever that may be?
This “I’ll pray for you” response rattled within me and into my prayer. It caused me to really reflect on: what do I pray for? But more so, what effort do I give in response to God’s grace at work in my life? Do I always make an excuse for why I didn’t respond or for how I did respond that was not my best? All these questions took me to John 5:1-9, the scripture story about Jesus curing the ill man who lay by the pool called Bethesda for years! Although I was absolutely amazed that this guy could lie there day after day and not give better effort to jump in the pool, I was more amazed at his response to Jesus’ question: “Do you want to be well?” (Maybe Jesus asked this question because He, too, was amazed that this guy could lay by the pool year after year and not find a way into the healing waters!) The ill man first tells Jesus he has no one to put him in the pool, and when he does give effort to go down to the water, someone else gets there before him. What really is the ill man’s effort and participation in his situation?
I sat for a long time praying with this story and asking myself “what do I pray for?” How open am I to allow Jesus to work within me? As a Vocation Minister, I wonder how many young men and women sit in their situations and say to God, who calls them by name, “Sir, I have no one to direct me to a Religious Community while you have stirred up the waters of the Holy Spirit within me”, or “Sir, it is not what ‘I’ had planned for my life.” Do I, as a religious woman, do you, as a young person discerning religious life, dare to respond to Jesus’ command: “Rise, take up your mat and walk?”
Times of our society have changed, opportunities within our Church have changed, but the need for us to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to go out into the world to be healer, teacher, counselor, witness has not changed. God calls us each by name. Dare we have the inner courage and strength to respond by taking up our mats and walking in the footsteps of Jesus?