HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 4TH WEEK OF LENT.
THEME: GRACIOUS HEALER.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul
“Do you want to be healed?”
The man healed in this story (John 5:1-16) was perhaps the least willing and the least grateful of all the people Jesus healed in John’s Gospel. The setting of the healing was a pool called Bethzatha near the Sheep’s Gate in Jerusalem. Lying in the porticos around this pool were many invalids — blind, lame, and paralyzed. People believed that an angel of the Lord would come and stirred the waters, and that whoever was the first to enter the pool after the waters were stirred would be healed of his or her illness. For 38years the man had been unable to walk. The average age of a man in the first century was 40. When Jesus saw him he asked, “Do you want to be healed?”. We might expect a resounding “Yes!” Instead, the man offered complaint: “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the pool is stirred up.” This frustration shows that he had no friends or relatives who cared about him. Jesus’ response to the man’s complaint was “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” Immediately the man was healed and took up his mat and walked.
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As was always the case, Jesus’ healing of someone on the Sabbath created problems. As the story progressed, the man would be confronted by “the Jews,” that is, Jewish religious authorities. The man responded that he was only doing what the man who healed him told him to do. Later Jesus encountered the healed man in the temple, and then the healed man proceeded to tell the Jewish authorities that it was Jesus who healed him. So the authorities began to persecute Jesus because he had healed on the Sabbath. When Jesus told them that he was simply doing the work of his Father, the Jewish authorities sought all the more to kill Jesus, “because he was not only breaking the Sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God”.
If ever we are tempted to think that God’s healing depends on the quality or quantity of a person’s faith, this passage offered strong corrective. The man whom Jesus healed showed no sign of faith in Jesus or of gratitude for what Jesus had done for him. When confronted by the religious authorities about carrying his mat on the Sabbath, he deflected blame to the man who healed him, whose name he had not even bothered to learn. And when he met Jesus again and learned his name, he immediately told the authorities the identity of the man they sought. The good that Jesus did was met not with faith or gratitude, but with persecution. Yet Jesus continued doing the life-giving work of his Father, regardless of the consequences. One might wonder why Jesus chose this particular man to heal out of all the invalids lying around the pool of Bethzatha. It seems like he could have made a better choice! Yet here we see that the compassion and healing power of Jesus are not reserved only for those who are “deserving” — for those whose faith is great and who respond to healing by believing in and following Jesus. Certainly Jesus heals such people also. But here Jesus heals one whose lack of faith leads him to cooperate with those who persecute Jesus, who even seek to kill Jesus.
John’s Gospel does not answer the question of why certain people are healed and others are not. But this passage makes it clear that healing is not a matter of having “enough” faith (as if that could be measured). That is not how Jesus operates. Clearly Jesus does not heal for the benefits to himself in gratitude or praise or devotion. He heals people simply because this is the work of his Father. God’s love spells no boundaries. Both sinners and righteous are covered. Friends abandoned him, family members rejected him but even in his ingratitude and lack of faith, Jesus came to his rescue. No matter how long your present condition has been, you have a gracious healer. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God be gracious and heal our world. God bless you and your household always through Christ Our Lord Amen. Good morning
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