JOHN 5:1–16

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids — blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.

The Gospel of the Lord

REFLECTION

Have you ever been fined or gotten a ticket from a policeman? Did you feel like he was hiding behind a bush, just waiting for you to jump that red light? Where I grew up, policemen would seem to appear only when you were breaking the law — and never when you needed help!

The Jews in today’s gospel passage seem to be like these policemen. When they see the man that Jesus has just healed, carrying his mat, they tell him that it is against the law to walk about on the Sabbath like that with it. Now this man had, for the last thirty-eight years, been lying beside the pool at Bethzatha, waiting for someone to help him into the waters when they were stirred up. No one had seemed to notice him then, and offered to help. But now, when he is found to be breaking the law, this poor man is suddenly visible to these “policemen”!

And they do the same to Jesus too, don’t they? They choose to ignore how the invalid man describes him — “The man who made me well said “Take up your mat and walk”. To them he is simply the man who said these words and broke the law.

This Lent, here’s something for us to think about: are we like these ‘policemen’ who believe that we are on duty to exercise authority and judgement? Or do we patrol the neighbourhood looking for someone to help and heal? Let us look out for opportunities to do more of one and less of the other.

God bless you!

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by Fionna Braganza