GET UP! PRESS ON!

One of my all-time favorite Gospel passages is the healing of the paralytic by the pool in Bethaisda:

Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep (Gate) a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.

In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.

One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.
–John 5:2-9

Really? Thirty-eight years and not one person has helped you? Did you ASK? Do you WANT to be healed?

Then pick up your mat and walk.

Lately, many similar directives have appeared in the Scripture readings.

Thursday, April 30th:
“The angel of the Lord spoke to Phillip, ‘Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.” [Acts 8:26]

Friday, May 1:
“He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ He said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.’ ” [Acts 9:4-6]

“There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul.” [Acts 9:10-11].

Saturday, May 2:
“As Peter was passing through every region, he went down to the holy ones living in Lydda. There he found a man name Aeneas, who had been confined to bed for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed.’ ”  [Acts 9:32-34]


I especially like that last one. When you’re in rehab for alcoholism or addiction, one of the first things they tell you is to make your bed each morning.

“Why?” is your thought. “I’m just going to lie down on it again at night.” (Or more likely if you were back home, all day, as you schemed how to rustle up more booze money).

But as responsible adults know, making your bed is a way to participate in the world of light, order, goodness, cleanliness, truth, self-love and thus, eventually, it’s to be hoped, love of others.

It’s a way of saying, I want to be well (more or less). I’m not sure what being well will mean, and I’m not sure I’m up to it, and to tell you the truth, I’m scared out of my wits to be dying to this old identity as a sick person, a person who can’t be counted on for anything so don’t even bother asking.

Nowadays I make my bed each morning even though I live alone, and even though I often take an afternoon nap, and even though, sure enough, I get back into that bed each night.

I figure if I’m killed while, for example, on my way to Mass, the people who enter my apartment will be cheered by the fact that my bed was made and my desk was clean and the dishes were done and that probably means a whole lot of other important things were in order.

Also, Christ is my roommate. He made his own bed, even when in the tomb. When the disciples entered, they found the cloth that had covered his head rolled up “in a separate place” [John 20:6-7] How thoughtful is that? If he can do it–and after all he’d just been through!–I can do it.

Besides, as Paul said after his conversion, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on.” [Philippians 3:12].

8 Replies to “GET UP! PRESS ON!”

  1. Shannon Williams says: Reply

    I’m so glad you think that way too! Being as pulled-together as we can be out of sheer love for the Christ Jesus Who makes us able to be pulled-together AT ALL is worship! I love it!

  2. Yvette Seydoux says: Reply

    Hi Heather! I wonder if the “street called Straight” was narrow. 🙂

  3. Ann Applegarth says: Reply

    I do that, too! And, along the same line, on these quarantined Sundays, I get up and put on nice clothes
    instead of my jeans to watch Mass on the Internet.

  4. That’ll brilliant: “He made his own bed…”. I never saw that.

  5. Ingrid Christensen says: Reply

    Yes, an unmade bed can mean we are slack in other areas. Thank you Heather.

  6. HEATHER KING says: Reply

    Ha, yes, Yvette, that would make in the Street called Straight and Narrow!…

    Thanks, all, I’m so glad others feel the same. Listen, if I had young kids running around, that’s a different matter but I really have no excuse for not making my bed etc. And the discipline of keeping our workspace, home and person halfway ordered is in the first instance for US–so we’re giving ourselves a beautiful environment in which to live, work, stretch…I am far from a neatnik, which you would see if you came over, but yeah, after 8 or so the bed’s usually made.

    Also, Ann, yes to looking nice for Sunday Mass! I often take what I call a Vespers Walk around my neighborhood and will often pray the Rosary, just walking up and down the streets around my apartment, saying hi to the people I pass and inwardly wishing everyone well though I don’t know them (I do know my immediate neighbors, and they know me–all too well!). And I will make sure I put on lipstick and comb my hair and straighten myself a bit beforehand, for the same reason. “Pray in secret and your Father who sees you will reward you in secret” (paraphrase)….all part of our general policy of love. The reward is knowing we are acting out of love, and that no-one much knows, sees or cares makes it all kind of perfect…

  7. I love the part about Jesus making his bed! Not sure if it is related, but a convert was impressed with the ordinariness and humility of the priest “washing the dishes “ after communion.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Totally related, Brigitte! I’ve noticed that at the end of Mass, too, esp on say a Sunday 5 pm. I’m tired, “sated” from the Eucharist, we’re all back in our pews awaiting the final prayer and from the altar come the soothing sounds of Father cleaning up, “doing the dishes,” just as I remember lying on the couch in the living room after supper as a kid and hearing the soothing sound of my mother doing the dishes from the kitchen…No task too humble for Our Lord…He probably wiped down the grill after he made that post-Resurrection fish breakfast for the disciples, too…

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