Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Reflection: John 5:17-30

Wednesday of 4th Week of Lent - John 5:17-30

In today’s passage from John, Jesus continues his dialogue with the Jews about the healing of the man who had been ill for 38 years that he had done on the Sabbath.  As we know, Jesus simply had told the man to go and wash in the pool in the temple, and when the man did as Jesus said, he was healed. The man was amazed and awed. He wanted the whole world to know of the great gift that he had been given. He rejoiced and went to everyone in the temple, showing them how well he could walk. What a great and gracious gift Jesus gave to this man!

The Pharisees immediately began to criticize Jesus, however.  After all, Jesus had healed on the Sabbath and Jewish law forbade any work on the Sabbath.  These Jews considered Jesus’ healing of this man work, and in their eyes, Jesus had broken the law. The Pharisees did not hesitate to reprimand Jesus for the precious gift he had given to the man.  For the Pharisees, law superseded compassion.

Jesus immediately responded to their criticism by telling them that He was doing what His Father had instructed Him to do.  God is a God of compassion and love. To heal and free others of illness and pain is to be compassionate and caring ­– as God is compassionate and loving. When Jesus heals another person, he is honoring God.

Jesus also tells the Pharisees that if they do not honor the Son, they do not honor the Father.  What did the Pharisees make of Jesus’ statement? Did they have any real sense of what Jesus was saying or what it meant? Did they think that Jesus was emotionally disturbed or perhaps a heretic?  After all, who did Jesus think he was to claim that He was the Son of God?

It is clear that many of the Pharisees appear to have a very different relationship with God than Jesus did.  For these Pharisees, God equaled law.  For them, the law reigned supreme.  If someone broke the law, they sinned.  The law for Jesus was compassion and love. For Jesus, love always was first and foremost.

What is the law that reigns in our life? Do we tend to be more the keeper of the letter of the law or of the law of love? The reality is that there are appropriate times for both choices. The challenge is have an inner sense of what is appropriate for the situation and loving for the person. Jesus was a man of the law. However, love ruled His life. Will we choose to live as Jesus did?

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