Introduction: In this text of John 5:1-16, the main focus in on the person of Jesus and his compassion towards a person who has been ill for thirty eight years. The text does not say much about the faith of the sick man, neither that he knows Jesus. The context in which Jesus meets the sick man is in a time of a Jews Festival in Jerusalem and he happens to know about it and joins them. In John’s Gospel is mention various the festivals in which Jesus makes himself present with the purpose to show a new focus of worship.
We see day after day
People in great need
of compassion, love and care;
give me the grace
to be in solidarity with them
to help them reach you
so that they can receive from you
what they need.
We ask this in the name of Jesus your Son.
- Read the text John 5:1-16 read the text slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
- Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
- Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
- Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
- Take now the word, sentence or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word lead you action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: Jesus meets a mass of sick people in the “Sheep Pool” in a place called Bethzatha (in Hebrew “house of mercy”). But the Gospel pays attention only to one man whose illness lasted for thirty eight years. We may ask ourselves why only him, was it an incurable disease, did he try local medicine or doctors for a cure, did he have relatives of friends, why did Jesus wanted to cure him if he didn’t plead for it, did Jesus want him to believe and to follow him? These questions and many other you may think of, can help us in our reflection. Contemplate the scene as in a film, focus on Jesus relationship with the sick man and try to answer some of those questions.
Central Message: …”There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem… In Bethzatha he saw lying there a man whom he knew he had been sick for a long time and he said to him, do you want to be well again? ‘Sir’, replied the sick man ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed’. Jesus said ‘get up take up your sleeping-mat and walk’. It was Sabbath when the man was cured. He did not know who Jesus was. Jesus was persecuted by the Jews for curing on the Sabbath, and Jesus answered them ‘My Father goes on working and so do I’.”
a) There was a Jewish festival (5:1): The evangelist mentions various festivals in his Gospel: ‘the Passover feast’ (ch. 6) ‘the feast of Tabernacles’ (7:1-10) and ‘the feast of Dedication’ (10:22-42). The Johannine community or the new Christians were experiencing persecution and exclusion from synagogues without access to their liturgical celebrations and their traditional feasts. They have to be creative and develop new ways to have access to worship God, like in hidden places specially in homes. Jesus had knowledge of this situation and turns up to each feast and brings up a new focus of worship, His very person. He is the replacement of the Jewish feasts, he is the new Temple (see 2:21; 4:21-23). In the western hemisphere there is not persecution or exclusion of the unbelieved but there are other reasons why people do not pay their respects to God or worshiping him. There are many places accessible to worship God but very few people search for them. Did Jesus not say that he will be with us always till the end of time? (Mt. 28:20). He is present in his Word and Sacraments, in the community and the Church “where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them” (Mt. 18:20)
b) Jesus saw a man lying there whom he knew he had been sick for a long time. There were many sick people in “Sheep pool” waiting for a miraculous cure. Jesus turned up among them but fixing his sight on the sick man, whose illness lasted for thirty eight years. He started a conversation with him, but before saying anything, Jesus saw the physical and not physical pain that this man suffered for a very a long time. The physical suffering could have been endured by taking local remedies to ease the pain or perhaps he had already got used it that he no longer felt pain. The no physical suffering was more difficult to endure, why? Because, for thirty eight years he suffered abandonment, dejection, lack of solidarity and compassion having not one to help him get into the pool for a cure. He was a hopeless and faithless man living in a state of desolation. But then Jesus turns up, not only brakes the Sabbath, but also that unfortunate situation of suffering. Jesus brought to him what he needed love, care, attention and compassion that for 38 years did not have.
c) Do you want to be well again? Jesus takes the initiative for curing the sick man who did not have identity. Jesus’s mission was to bring healing to anyone regardless of race, colour or religion, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick” (Lk 5:31) His mission was to re-create the fallen and disfigured by sin and sickness. He came to bring life to the full (Jn 10:10). Notice that Jesus did not cure him to convert him or to making him a believer, he did it in order to help him walk again. He wanted the sick man experience love, compassion and affection, something that he never experience before. The answer to the question of Jesus was neither “Yes nor No”, but seems indifferent to Jesus and not interested in him because he did not know him and didn’t bother to learn his name. That indicates that, although Jesus could make a different choice like someone who had faith, his love and compassion has not any distinction or it is not reserved for those who deserve it. He heals because this is the work of his Father who does not stop working even on Sabbath day (Jn 5:18).
Some questions for our reflexion:
- What do you feel when you don’t receive help in times of great need?
- How is the situation of the sick where you live?
- What does this text teach you?