In the fifth chapter of John, Jesus heals a man at the Pool of Bethesda. The first person to get into the pool after an angel stirred the waters would be healed. An invalid had been going to the pool to be healed for 38 years, but he needed help to get in the pool and was never healed because he was never able to be the first into the pool. After being healed by Jesus, the man is not only thankful, he later tattles on Jesus.
Last April, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed and declared that a Covid vaccine would be developed and available in a matter of months. Democrats and the media declared such talk to be baseless and hallucinatory if not downright dangerous for giving false hope. A matter of months later in December, the vaccine had been developed, tested in massive clinical trials, and began to be distributed. Immediately, the story shifted. Now we are bombarded daily with harsh criticisms of how slow and how unfair the vaccine rollout is being handled. We are now seeing people in a frenzy to find lawful (and unlawful) ways to get their vaccinations. Now who is scrambling to be the first to get into the pool? I also see scant evidence of rejoicing or gratefulness by society that safe and incredibly effective vaccines have been made in record time. I see the vaccines as gifts of healing and compassion from God for which we should enormously grateful.
Many of us have scarce known a sick day in our lives, but here in this passage is a man who hasn’t had a day of being well in 38 years. He exhibited incredible patience, yet we are mad at the slow rate of vaccine production, poorly designed vaccine websites, bureaucracy, snowstorms that delayed delivery trucks, etc. The invalid had been going to the pool every day for 38 years, yet we can’t understand why we can’t go up to Walgreens and get vaccinated after dinner tonight. Why can’t Amazon just same-day ship someone to my house to personally vaccinate me? As we should be thankful, so we should be patient.
Finally, the invalid in the story – just like all the rest of people Jesus healed in the Gospels – later got sick and died. As such their healing was temporary. In this sense, the Covid vaccines are also temporary. You hear about people seizing the day – Carpe Diem. Nothing wrong with that, but on this Good Friday we are reminded as Christians that we are asked to look at the bigger picture, to look beyond today and even beyond this life here on earth. We need to seize eternity and only Jesus lets us do that for he is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Carpe Aeternum! Amen!