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Tuesday, 16th March

The Need for a Spiritual Imagination

– Tuesday of the 4th Week of Lent –

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralysed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and … said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ [John 5:2-6]

From God’s perspective, though we are imbued with the dignity that comes with being made in the image of God, in our brokenness we are blind, lame and paralysed.

Our inability to see the presence of God around us and our consistent failure to identify what is essential is indicative of our blindness. Our halting attempts to reach out to others and to take the journey beyond ourselves and our habitually narrow worldview is indicative of our being lame. Our lack of ability to change our habits and our most ingrained sins is indicative of our paralysis. 

In this, we are reminded of the Transfiguration. There we encounter the disciples’ inability to process what was happening. James and John are rendered mute, and Peter completely misunderstands what is required of him.

Most of us, most of the time, have little idea of what God is doing, much less have a clear awareness of how we are to respond. We are the blind, the deaf, the lame, the leper, the paralysed and the possessed who regularly feature throughout the gospels.

It can be alarming to recognise that we resist the life God is offering us.

Our relationship with God is like swimming in a pool. We are content to play around in the shallow end, imagining that is not our place to take our feet off the bottom of that pool and swim into the deep. We suffer from a crisis of imagination. We cannot imagine that God wants to work in, and through, us as he reaches out to everyone with whom we come in contact. Our lack of spiritual imagination means that we do not see, we do not reach out, and we do not move.

But in God there is always more. As we step out into the deep with eyes firmly on Jesus, we find he heals us, extends us, strengthens us and by his divine grace, does in us what we thought was impossible.

By Shane Dwyer

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