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Mercy and Grace
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a Sabbath.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, I want to be healed. Help me to be open to receiving your mercy and grace so I can live an abundant life here and now and have eternal life with you in the next.
- Desert Wandering: Today’s Gospel passage continues the Johannine theme of miraculous healing. Just before this in the Gospel of John (also yesterday’s Gospel reading), Jesus healed the royal official’s son. Here he healed a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. Thirty-eight years is significant because that is how long Israel wandered in the wilderness of Paran (see Numbers 33). Moses wrote: “And the time from our leaving Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until the entire generation, that is, the men of war, had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them” (Deuteronomy 2:14). This man had been crippled, sitting near a pool of healing water but unable to access it, for thirty-eight years; he was “wandering in a desert.” Bethesda means “house of mercy” or “house of grace” in Hebrew. The man was in need of mercy and grace, but he could not access it. He needed Jesus to extend mercy and grace to him in order to restore him to life. Is there any place in our life when we have been wandering away from Jesus’ mercy and grace?
- Come to the Water: Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed. Jesus wants to heal us too, but we must consent to be healed by believing that he has the power to heal us from everything that afflicts us, most importantly our sins and vices. Jesus’ mercy and grace flow out of him as “living water” (John 4:10). We are called to come to his pool of mercy and grace and submerge ourselves in it. Each time we approach Jesus to confess our sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation, we come to this deep pool of mercy. We open our hearts, allowing our sins to come out of us, and Jesus pours his living water of mercy into them, purifying and restoring them. We receive mercy for our sins and grace to strengthen us against future temptation.
- Jesus, Font of Healing: Jesus Christ is the new temple (cf. John 2:21). In our first reading today, Ezekiel had a vision of this new temple with a wonderful stream flowing ever deeper from its right side (Ezekiel 47:1). This stream made salt water fresh and dirty water clean. Wherever it flowed, it brought health and life in abundance (Ezekiel 47:8-12). The new temple mount is Calvary, where the sweet waters of baptism flowed out of Christ’s side: “…one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:34). The man wanted to get to the healing water in the pool; in his abundant mercy Jesus, the font of healing, came to him.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, thank you for coming to save and heal me. Help me to come to your living waters of mercy and grace. I know that I cannot save myself, but I need you to come and bring me salvation and restore my wholeness.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a plan to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation soon.
For Further Reflection: Watch this video from Ascension Presents, Do You Want to Be Well? by Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Carey Boyzuck is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.