We are presented in today’s Gospel with an awfully pathetic figure. Most commentators shake their heads over someone who after 38 years needed to be asked if he wanted to be well. They resent the way he sold out Jesus to the authorities as quick as he could walk on his newly-healed legs and they bristle that he did so even after he was admonished not to sin again. All it takes is a quick look at his life and a cursory look at my own to see the striking similarities.

I can’t help but imagine the stages of failure and limitation in this man’s 38 years. How many decades before his drive and determination slipped away like broken Lenten promises? I can see the questioning, the resentment, the depression. After 38 long years, he forgot even how to desire to be healed; he couldn’t remember how to grateful even to the one who reached out to heal him.

Jesus “saw” and “knew” and then healed him anyway.  What a merciful God we have.

—Cyril Pinchak, S.J. is a first year theology student at Regis College in Toronto. He taught previously at University of Detroit High School & Academy in Detroit, MI.