“Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.”

Yesterday we would have begun a long weekday sequence from the Gospel of John (running through Tuesday of Holy Week, although we will take another detour on the Feast of the Annunication, this year marked on March 26th because the 25th falls on a Sunday) had it not been St. Joseph’s Day.  Yesterday’s gospel passage is normally the one in which Jesus heals the royal official’s son from afar (Jn 4:43-54).  This happened in Capernaum, Galilee.  Today’s reading picks up right from there, with Jesus going up to Jerusalem on the sabbath because of a Jewish feast (Jn 5:1-3, 5-16).  Jesus encounters a man sick for thirty-eight years who is not able to get to the healing waters of the pool of Bethesda.  Jesus asks if he wishes to be healed, he says he can’t make it to the pool in time, and Jesus simply tells him to “Rise, take up your mat, and walk” (v. 8).  The healed man is then confronted by some Jews who object to his carrying his mat on the sabbath.  He says that he was instructed to do so by the man who healed him although he did not who that man was.  Jesus later confronts the man with the words at top.  The man then goes and tells the Jews it was Jesus who had cured him.  The passage ends on an ominous note: “Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath” (v.16).  Isn’t it interesting that Jesus sought after this man to deliver the message above, knowing that he would know who He was and be able to report Him to His enemies.  But Jesus is compelled to deliver this message so it is too important to miss — for the healed man in the gospel and for us today.  We all experience times when we implore God’s help for a healing or special favor.  Often this is accompanied with a vow to reform our lives, eliminate a particular sin or vice, pray more, etc.  But when the matter for which we are so anxious is resolved, how long does it take for us to return to our previous ways and forget our promise to the Lord?  Might not the healed man already have slipped into sin due to his new found health?  Do we do the same?  Worse than any sort of suffering we can experience in our lives is the purgation or eternal torment awaiting us if our lives are not reformed.  Jesus felt the man He healed — and by extension people of every age — needed desperately to hear that message, even at the risk of His own safety.  Take heed!

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