Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Pilgrimage – 4th Week of Lent – Tuesday – John 5:1-16
Christ returns to Jerusalem for a Feast (likely the Feast of Pentecost/Weeks, a feast Jews kept in May/June to give thanks for the summer harvest; Lev 23:15-22) on the Sabbath, one of the pilgrim feasts men of Israel were required to make each year. Earlier, Christ had traveled to Jerusalem and cleared the Temple causing much anger by Jewish leaders; Christ revelations on this trip will lead the Jewish leaders to begin the plot to eventually kill Christ.
Christ encounters a multitude of invalids at the large pool Bethesda, located by the Sheep Gate (used to herd sheep into Jerusalem for sacrifice); it was believed angels would periodically stir the waters, allowing the sick to be healed when they washed in the moving waters. Christ selects a man who had been ill for 38 years, mysteriously, the same amount of time Israel suffered in the desert after disobedience to God. Christ asks the man if he wished to be healed but the man pessimistically laments he is unable to reach the moving waters. Without any test of faith, Christ tells the man “Rise, take up your pallet and walk” and the man walks.
Rather than worship Christ, the healed man walks off, carrying his pallet (a mat to lay upon). Some Jews, probably Pharisees or scribes, accuse the man of breaking the Sabbath because he is carrying his pallet; Sabbath rest was required in honor of God (3rd Commandment) and some argued for harsh restrictions of “work.” The man shifts blame to Christ (though he hasn’t the gratitude to learn Christ’s name) rather than giving thanks for his healing. Later, Christ finds the healed man in the Temple and warns him to sin no more to avoid a more devastating future punishment (eternal punishment). The man, still lacking thanksgiving or loyalty, betrays Christ by rushing to tell the Jews, giving the Jews more evidence (breaking the Sabbath) in their plot kill Jesus.
1) Be awed by Christ’s miracle: He correctly diagnoses a chronic multi-decade illness with a look, heals the man’s malady with a thought and strengthens the man’s muscles and coordination so that he can walk.
2) Many men have lost sight of the great blessing of keeping the Sabbath and the mortal sin of not keeping it. During Lent, renew your appreciation of the 3rd Commandment/Keeping the Sabbath (CCC 2168-2195) and pray to Christ to help you keep the Sabbath.
3) Because of Original Sin, each man is a sinner who betrays Christ in what we do and fail to do. During Lent, grow in your sorrow and repentance for your sins and receive Christ’s forgiveness and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (CCC 1450-1460).