Pope Francis on Tuesday encouraged Christians to get on with things, living life with joy.
Speaking during the homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, he urged them to avoid complaining and not to let themselves be paralyzed by the ugly sin of sloth.
The Gospel story at the heart of Pope Francis’ reflection tells of a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. He was lying at the side of a pool called Bethesda with a large number of ill, blind, lame and crippled who believed that when an angel came down and stirred up the waters the first to bathe in the pool would be healed. 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?”
“It’s what Jesus repeatedly says to us as well” the Pope said: “do you want to be well? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to improve your life? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”
When Jesus, the Pope pointed out, asked that strange man if he wanted to be well, instead of saying “yes” he complained there was on one to put him in the pool while the water is stirred up and that someone else always got there before him. His answer, Francis said, was a complaint, he was implying that life had been unjust with him.
“This man, the Pope noted, was like the tree planted along the bank of the rivers, mentioned in the first Reading, but it had arid roots, roots that did not reach the water, could not take nourishment from the water”.
The Pope said this is clear from his attitude of always complaining and trying to blame the other. “This is an ugly sin: the sin of sloth” he said. Pope Francis said this man’s disease was not so much his paralysis but sloth, which is worse than having a lukewarm heart. It causes one to live without the desire to move forward, to do something in life, it causes one to lose the memory of joy, he explained, saying the man had lost all of this.
Jesus, the Pope continued, did not rebuke him but said: “Take up your mat, and walk”. The man was healed but since it was a Sabbath, the doctors of the law said it was not lawful to carry a mat on that day and they asked him who was the man who told him to do so.
The sick man, the Pope noted, had not even thanked Jesus or asked for his name: “he rose and walked with that slothful attitude “living his life because oxygen is free”, always looking to others “who are happier” and forgetting joy.
“Sloth, he said, is a sin that paralyzes us, stops us from walking”.
Even today, the Pope said, the Lord looks to each of us sinners – we are all sinners – and says “Rise”. The Lord tells each of us, Pope Francis concluded, to take hold of our life, be it beautiful or difficult and move on: “Do not be afraid, go ahead carrying your mat” and remember to come to the waters and quench your thirst with joy and ask the Lord to help you get up and know the joy of salvation.