When I had my finger wrapped, bathing was difficult. I had to pay extra attention not to use that finger to wash my hair. It felt strange, like using a comb with missing teeth. The parts of my head that were 'taken care' of by that finger had to be 'babysitted' by the other fingers, which had to cover their usual parts plus the additional. Washing my hair took a longer time than usual. The injured finger quite naturally went back to the washing since that is one of its function but then awareness pulls it back again.
When I sprained my ankle, walking was difficult. Feeling the pain and being aware that any aggravation would make the injury heal slower, I walked less and leaned more towards the side that is not injured. In the end, I found myself straining the healthy side too with the additional weight.
If you had similar experiences, can you recall what it felt like to have a part of your body not functioning as it should and normally would?
I bring this up because most people are blessed with a healthy body and for this, I have never considered myself a cripple and could not relate very much at all with those cripples Jesus met in the Gospel stories. But we do not need to be physically crippled to experience what it is like to be crippled, to be inhibited and unable to enjoy the lightness and agility in our movements. In our emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of life, do you remember ever feeling heavily weighed down, burdened, like a stone pressing down on your heart?
There are many things that can cripple us. A promotion that went to someone else, a guilt of having said hurtful things, a project gone wrong, an addiction to pornography or gambling, disappointment with some religious or priests, a family member who has gone astray, arguments between parents, suicide of a loved one, less than desirable examination results… So many things can cripple us.
Where there is a lacking, there we are crippled by our wanting.
Where there is hurt, there we are crippled by our unforgiveness.
Where there is sin, there we are crippled by guilt.
Where there is disharmony, there we are crippled by fear.
Where there is expectation, we are crippled by disappointments.
Where there is rejection, self-doubts.
Where there is a threat, the need to defend and protect ourselves.
Where there is insecurities, we are crippled by the need to prove our worth.
Greed, pride… leads to so many wants.
All these wants weigh us down. We are always searching, never satisfied. Always hungry and never filled. Always running after things we think we must have and never feeling happy.
Society defines our lives, our satisfaction and happiness. Ladies must dress up. We must work overtime so that people will not speak ill of us. Grownups cannot play with soft toys, cannot be like a child once in a while because we will look childish and stupid. So many adults have forgotten what it is like to play, to let loose and just GO… without fear of falling down, without an image to uphold. Even some (not all) priests and religious seem to have an image to uphold. To be prim and proper, serious, composed. Cannot let others know about their weaknesses. True that people will stare and talk when they see a religious hopping around, dancing about, smiling from ear to ear. But that's their own pride, insecurities and prejudices to handle.
How does one rejoice and truly be joyful then? Without being able to raise one's hands, to sing at the top of one's voice, to move one's feet in dancing without feeling the need to be inhibited… how does one truly express the joy of the Lord when inhibited? When concerned about how others will see us?
We are crippled when we cannot be who we truly are, when we cannot live like a redeemed son and daughter of God… freely, without putting on another image or a mask. When we cannot love fully because of the fear of being hurt… when our actions do not match our feelings. When we dare not be unique but are governed by conformity… When we shun away from the intensity of our hurts and sufferings…
And here in our handicap is Jesus saying to you, to me, "I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home." Lk 5:23 Stand up and walk!!
What joy it is when my ankle was well again and I could walk properly, when my finger recovered and I could freely play the piano and type on the computer again. What joy it is when we need not be burdened to meet expectations, earn love, win approval, hold back someone else's faults. What joy it is to believe and live fully in the love of God.
When I sin, I return to Him and receive forgiveness.
When I am hurt, I stretch out my hands to receive His healing.
When I doubt myself, I return into my Father's arms and remember I am loved and always good enough for Him by His mercy.
When I am happy, I claim that happiness.
When I am sad, I let myself grieve.
When I cannot, I rely on Him.
In Jesus, I can be who I am, imperfect, seeking perfection.
In Jesus, I can be freed of all inordinate attachments.
Truly, He has come to set prisoners free. The lame shall walk, the blind shall see, the deaf shall hear.
Blessed be the name of the Lord. In Him alone is found true and lasting freedom. The freedom to drop all I do not need even if the world says I need them. The freedom of having no need, no lacking because I have everything in Him who created me, sustains me, and to Whom I will return.
How have you been a cripple too? And how is Jesus asking you to get up and walk? How is He breaking your chains and asking you to go free?