If Jesus were a genie in a bottle, and granted each one of us three wishes, I wonder what we’d ask him for. I suspect that many of us might ask for things that would make our lives easier.
But Jesus, of course, isn’t a genie. We can and should ask him for things, but he isn’t obligated to grant our wishes. Jesus does give us things. But they don’t always make our lives easier. Instead, Jesus gives us things to make our lives better. And sometimes there’s a big difference between easier and better.
We see this in today’s gospel, I think. A paralyzed man was brought to Jesus, and our typical reaction is to think that he probably wants to walk more than anything else! But we can’t see into another’s heart, and Jesus can. In that man’s heart Jesus saw fear- which is why he told him to have courage. Jesus also saw a need for forgiveness- which is why he pardoned his sins. Jesus knows that living life with courage and inner peace- even if one is unable to walk- is much better than limping along with fear and guilt.
Yes, Jesus did eventually heal the man- in order to prove a point to his critics. But we aren’t Jesus’ critics; we’re his friends. And the point he proves to us is that his gifts to us may not always be what we want; they may not be things we think we need; they won’t necessarily make our lives easier. But they will always make us better people, because Jesus knows what is best. A genie won’t do that! But thankfully, Jesus is no genie. Instead, he is our Lord.