Grace to you!
I continue the reflection on the identity of Jesus.
The Gospel of John 5:1 reports that Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the Feast. We are not sure which of the Jewish feasts. It could have been one of the three principal Jewish feasts—the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacle, or the Feast of Pentecost. Every male Jew who lives within twenty miles of Jerusalem was obliged to attend.
This action shows Jesus of Nazareth as a faithful Jew, truly human. He grew from a particular culture. Also, he lived like others within that culture, though, as the letter to the Hebrews says, "without sin." This too is an acknowledgement of his humanity.
Amidst the multitude of people crowded at the temple for the Feast, Jesus sought out those desperately in need. Scripture says, “Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethza′tha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years” (Jn 5:2-4).
The Lord singled out the man who had been lying there for a long time. He was, probably, the worst of the cases.
Before we look at the miraculous action of Jesus, would you please pay more attention to some of the details of this story. For example, Jesus doesn't look at us as a collection of people. He pays attention to our particular needs. As the Lord observed the need of the man who had been ill for thirty-eight years, he notices your needs and provides in due time.
See how the Lord Jesus responded. First, he sought the man's consent: "Do you want to be healed?" When the man answered yes, the Lord performed the miracle. He did so merely by the power of his word. His word, like his Father, gives life. He said to the man: "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." And at once, the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked" (Jn 5:8-9). With the Lord, there is healing grace.
On another note, Jesus Christ, like God the Father, does not force us to believe in him or in the Revelation, which he is. He proposes it to us. Even after the miracle, the Lord allowed the man to make his decision about true faith in him and renunciation of sin. In like manner, followers of Jesus must not force people to faith. Our evangelization work is to propose the Lord to many and allow them to make up their minds. Conversion and faith-deepening start from within, by the power of grace. They are not our making.
Meanwhile, the miracle that ensued irked the Jews about whom were described in the story. They thought Jesus was violating the Sabbath. The action of Jesus, however, was a calculated work to reveal his identity as equal to the Father, the Lord of the Sabbath, the Law Giver.
Lent is, therefore, a time to reconnect with the mystery of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, whose life is the complete Revelation of the Triune God. He is the Lord, our healer.
Lord Jesus, may I know and accept you as my Lord and Savior. May I continue to praise and worship you as Lord. Heal me of my sins and pains. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday, Lent, Week 4; Ez 47:1-9, 12; Jn 5:1-16]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth and inspiration. They are designed for a general audience. They may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons.