By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
People should stop blaming and complaining so they can be filled with God’s joy and rise up to life’s challenges, Pope Francis said.
Forgetting what joy is and languishing in self-pity come with the sin of sloth, the pope said March 28 in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.
“It’s a terrible disease: ‘Well, I’m comfortable as is, I’ve gotten used to it. Life, of course, has been unfair to me.’ You see resentment, bitterness in that heart,” he said.
The pope’s homily was a reflection on the Gospel of St. John reading in which Jesus heals a lame man at the pool of Bethesda.
A large number of people who were ill, blind or crippled gathered at the pool because it was believed if a person immersed himself just when the waters were stirred by an angel, he would be healed. Jesus saw a lame man, who had been waiting by the poolside for 38 years, and asked him, “Do you want to be well?”
Pope Francis said, “This is beautiful; Jesus always asks us this: Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to make your life better? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”
If Jesus had asked any of the other people there desperate for help, the pope said, “they would have said, ‘Yes, Lord, yes.’ But this was a strange man” because instead he started complaining about how he had no one to help him into the water and everyone else always managed to get in before him.
The man is like a tree planted near streams of water, but he cannot grow and prosper because his roots are dried up, “those roots don’t reach the water, he couldn’t take in the well-being of the water,” the pope said.
“This is a terrible sin, the sin of sloth. This man was ill not so much from paralysis, but from sloth, which is worse than having a lukewarm heart,” he said. “It is living, but only because I am alive and have no desire to go on, have no desire to do something in life, to have lost his memory” of what joy is.
But Jesus does not scold him, the pope said; he tells him to rise, take his sleeping mat and walk, which he does, disappearing into the crowd, without saying thank you or even asking Jesus his name.
“Sloth is a sin that paralyzes, makes us lame. It doesn’t let us walk. Even today the Lord looks at each one of us, we have all sinned, we are all sinners,” the pope said, but Jesus still looks and “tells us, ‘Rise.'”
Everyone is asked to pick up his or her sleeping mat and walk, “take your life as it is, beautiful, terrible” whatever it’s like and go, the pope said.
“It is your life, it is your joy,” he said. The Lord is asking, “Do you want to be healed?” Do not be afraid to say “yes,” ask for help and go toward the waters. “Quench your thirst with joy” because it is the joy of salvation, he said.