Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Ezekiel 47:1-9,12 + John 5:1-16
April 2, 2019
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.
It was divine love that moved Jesus to heal the sick man in today’s Gospel passage. It was this love that motivated Jesus to risk incurring the wrath of the Jewish people by healing this man on the Sabbath. Sadly, even the man who is healed by Jesus does not quite understand Him. When the healed man is confronted by the Jews about the “inappropriateness” of this miracle being performed on the Sabbath, he does not give faithful witness to Jesus’ love for Him. Instead, he lamely tries to pass the buck to Jesus so that he himself is not blamed.
The irony of these events is that there is no “blame” here, except for that manufactured by those who wish to condemn Jesus. Nonetheless, this guilt, like the true guilt of all mankind, is passed on to Jesus, and He accepts it, for He can make all things new in Himself. He can even use an occasion such as this to bring glory to God.
Saint John is not, in narrating this “third sign” of the Book of Signs, focusing upon a miracle of physical healing, though that is what this passage seems to be about at first glance. Certainly the man in today’s Gospel passage is healed of his ailment. But on the other hand he incurs a much more serious moral ailment in accepting false guilt for Jesus’ miracle and passing that guilt along to Jesus.
It is in the Temple that Jesus confronts this man for a second time—as He spoke twice to the royal official in yesterday’s gospel. In the first encounter between these two men, Jesus speaks the truth but is not understood. In the second encounter, something even more powerful takes place. It is in the Temple—the scene of today’s First Reading—that Jesus speaks a much more important truth, reminding the healed man that he has sins that must be given up.
It was not for physical healings that Jesus came into this world. The Word of God became flesh so that He could offer His Flesh and Blood on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
Christ Healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682)