Sunday, 21 January 2018

ST. JOHN 5:9(cont.)-14


Today, during Holy Mass at the end of his pastoral visit to Chile, Pope Francis, commenting on St. John 15:11, noted: The Gospel message is a wellspring of joy………..

This is a critical teaching of Pope Francis and is applicable to all four Gospels, which in essence are only ONE Gospel, expressed in four ways, for the Gospel IS the Good News, always alive and active – It is common knowledge that among all the inspired writings, even among those of the New Testament, the Gospels have a special place, and rightly so, because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Saviour…..such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigour, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life. Scripture verifies in the most perfect way the words: “The Word of God is living and active” [Hb.4:12], and “is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” {Acts 20:32; cf. 1Th. 2:13}. (from the document of Vatican II on Divine Revelation: Ch. V, para. 18 & Ch. VI, para. 21)

In these days when, as Pope Francis mentions elsewhere, he fears nuclear war, indeed in these days of such deep, fearful anxiety among the whole human family, and all the other disturbances within and between nations, within the Church, etc., etc., how critical it is we daily go to and drink deeply from the “wellspring of joy.”

St. John notes, something all the Evangelists note about various healings, that Jesus had healed the man by the pool on the Sabbath. [cf. v.9]

Immediately the religious rigorist-legalists attacked Jesus verbally, however in their cowardice rather than attacking Jesus directly they go after Jesus through the man who has been healed: v.10=The Jews therefore said to him who was cured: “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”

A few points: some scholars and others jump on St. John for his frequent use of the term “the Jews”, and variations thereof, as if his Gospel account is anti-Semitic.

Given the complex demographics of occupied Israel at the time, Rome being the occupying power, and peoples of various cultures and religions in the crowded cities and around Jesus, using the term “the Jews”, if we look at each event clearly is code for the Jewish religious authorities, the obvious enemies of Jesus.

Another point, not just in ancient times within the Jewish faith, but in pagan religions of the time, and in our day too within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, most horrifically the latter, rigorism and legalism, like a cancer, eat away at authentic faith, at imitating Christ’s own compassion for others.

V.11=He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’”

There it is again: made me well, not cured me, made well.

V.12=Then they asked him, Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk?’”

Typical of judgemental rigorists, like dogs on a bone, they just can’t let this infraction of their anti-person, legalist, nit picky interpretation of the sacredness of the Sabbath go.

V.13=But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.

This is the Evangelist’s first reference to the event as a healing, which it clearly was, but the ‘being made well’, to this point has been the focus. Also in this one sentence St. John shows us an aspect of the humility of Jesus. Jesus did not hang around for adulation and applause.

The man needing to be well was the entire focus, the loving and compassionate focus of Jesus and once Jesus had taken care of him Jesus withdrew because had He not, the ‘multitude’ would have reacted.

V.14=Afterward Jesus found him in the temple…..

How wonderful to see the man going to the sacred place of prayer, no doubt with his heart pounding with gratitude.

v. 14 cont.=…and said to him, “See, you have been made well……again this emphasis on the man’s being made well…..Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”

While most sickness is not a result of personal sin, rather disease is part of the disorder in creation from the immensity of original sin, the original rejection of God’s love and right order in creation, some sickness IS the result of personal sin – a simple example: if we consume alcohol to excess we may well end up with liver disease or if we drink and drive we may well crash and injure ourselves and others, or worse.

St. John does not tells us, but Jesus, who as God sees everything in the human heart, clearly knew what had led, what sinful act, had led to the man’s paralysis and therefore Jesus’s warning is appropriate because it is an extension of His healing, merciful, compassion.

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