Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Isaiah 49:8-15 + John 5:17-30
March 17, 2021
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing”.
In these latter weeks of Lent, each weekday’s Gospel passage comes from St. John’s account of the Gospel. These are proclaimed in sequential order, but they’re not always consecutive: each does not necessarily follow the previous day’s passage. For example, this Thursday’s Gospel passage ends with John 5:47, the last verse of that chapter. The following day’s Gospel passage begins at John 7:1.
However, there are days within these latter weeks of Lent when the Gospel passages are consecutive. In fact, from Monday through Thursday of this fourth week of Lent, the Gospel passages immediately follow one after the other. This is especially important to keep in mind regarding today’s Gospel Reading. In fact, for the sake of appreciating the context of today’s passage, we ought to back up to the latter two verses of yesterday’s Gospel Reading.
After Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, the “man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.” That sheds light upon the first two verses of today’s passage: “Jesus answered the Jews: ‘My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.’ For this reason they tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.”
So in yesterday’s and today’s passages, we hear two rationales for the attempts made to kill Jesus, attempts that reach success in His crucifixion on Good Friday. It’s easy for us to explain these rationales as false: after all, Jesus as God is Lord of the Sabbath, and Jesus didn’t make Himself equal to God but was begotten by God the Father from eternity as His co-equal Son.
However, better than our explanations are Jesus’ own words. St. John’s account of the Gospel is especially rich in Trinitarian doctrine. Reflect, then, upon Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel Reading as a way for you, as one of the Father’s adopted children, to learn more about the Father who in all things wants to draw you closer to Himself.
Holy Trinity with Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist and Tobias and the Angel (c. 1491–1493)
Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445–1510)