March 13, 2018
by Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 245

Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12
Psalms 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
John 5:1-16

Praying Lent Home

Lent Prayer for Today

The Fourth Week of Lent - 31 min. - Text Transcript

Lent for the Older Brother/Sister
of the Prodigal Son/Daughter

Helping Little Children with Lent

Today's Gospel is from John, always a layered and nuanced author, and so it is only natural to look deeply not only into what he says and what he hints at, but maybe especially into what he quite loudly does not say.  For example, we might consider that the “five porticoes were crowded with sick people” and yet Jesus only approaches one, speaks to only one, and heals only one.  What is that all about? 

Well, we can consider that the man has been sick for a long time and has no one to help him, and yet he is there waiting for help from God in a most patient and seemingly hopeless manner.  The response of Jesus to his situation, not even to his request, is unambiguous: “Stand up!  Pick up your mat and walk!”  What we do not see right there at the healing is Christ's usual injunction not to sin any more or the statement that it was the man's faith which saved him. 

If we were to stop reading John's story there I think that we would feel somewhat unsatisfied with what we had read.  The second half of the story does complete the first part, but maybe not in the way that we would desire or expect (something like what John relates in a similar interchange, the story of the Man Born Blind in chapter 9): this second part of the story merely underlines the fact that Jesus was healing on the Sabbath and that this caused “some of the Jews” to begin to persecute Him.  It does add the fact that the healed man goes to the Temple, probably to give thanks to God, and meets Jesus there and learns His name.  That is when Jesus enjoins him to give up his sin... and on the surface of it that is about all there is to the story. 

The question is always how this might apply to us.  We are that man, sinful but patient, looking to God for forgiveness and healing, for a fresh start to our trying to know, love, and serve Him, and we are (or should be) amazed that God looks at us a second time and even talks to us, heals us, or becomes human so that He can approach us and touch us more deeply. 

How do we respond?  Do we really understand what is happening to us or what the true name of our Lord is?  How we can show proper thanks?

Or maybe, in this season, we need to focus more on how we pitiful people can, even with the best of intentions, ever truly “give up our sin”...

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