Tuesday 29 March 2022 4th week of Lent
The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar……; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross. He then said, ‘Do you see, son of man?’ He took me further, then brought me back to the bank of the river. When I got back, there were many trees on each bank of the river. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’
Psalm 45 The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Gospel John 5:1-3,5-16
There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people – blind, lame, paralysed – waiting for the water to move. One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in this condition for a long time, he said, ‘Do you want to be well again?’ ‘Sir,’ replied the sick man ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets there before me.’ Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk.’ The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and walked away. Now that day happened to be the sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.’ He replied, ‘But the man who cured me told me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ They asked, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Pick up your mat and walk”?’ The man had no idea who it was, since Jesus had disappeared into the crowd that filled the place. After a while Jesus met him in the Temple and said, ‘Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. It was because he did things like this on the sabbath that the Jews began to persecute Jesus.
Have you ever witnessed something miraculous? Something that took your breath away. I once saw a woman who had such severe chronic back pain for about ten years, she could hardly move. I saw a very skilled therapist working with her – he did not touch her at all, but at the end of a short session, she got up with agility and ease and walked around as if she never had any problem. She even danced with joy. She still has had no pain return to her back since that day, almost 25 years later. Imagine if I told her after getting up that she was breaking the law doing so.
When I was newly ordained, and appointed to my first parish, I was approached by a woman with a down’s syndrome boy. She wanted him to make his first communion. I can’t believe I said it, but I told her I had to check the regulations of the church to see if I could or not. The kid came to Mass every Sunday and was more engaged in the liturgy than almost anyone else. She was upset with me, and she had every right to be.
It is most perplexing that at the same time as insisting on honouring God by keeping the laws, we can be blind to the action of God right in front of our eyes. Lord, we pray that you open our eyes to your presence in others, that we might celebrate your life that is alive in them.